It is ironic- all around the world, there are BDSers who refuse to buy Israeli products because they don’t believe in Israel. The Palestinians, however, have always purchased Israeli milk and other products from companies such as Osem, Tnuva, Prigat and more. In fact, there is a commercial for a supermarket in Gaza that features Israeli products- some with Arabic and some with Hebrew on it.
Last week, however, things began to change. Israel decided to withhold tax revenues that were supposed to be transferred to the PA in response to the PA’s application to join the Hague International Criminal Court. The ICC prosecutes genocide and war crimes. The December revenues amounted to approximately $127 million. In response to Israel’s response, the PA (without Abu Mazen) announced that they will forbid the entry of products from six Israeli companies: Osem, Tnuva, Strauss, Prigat, and Yafora (Schwepps, RC Cola, Ein Gedi, Mei Eden, Spring, and more) into the PA. Retailers have two weeks to exhaust their stocks. After that, the products are to be either returned or destroyed. The ban is to continue until Israel releases the tax revenues.
How effective this ban will be is not clear. Tnuva sells only 3% of its production- approximately 200-250 million shekels- to the PA, mostly basic dairy products. Osem sells less than 2%, or 70 million shekels. Strauss sells even less- mainly ice cream and puddings. One of these companies’ managers told the Marker that the products they sell in the “reshut” are very basic products with a very low price tag because the area is not wealthy. The profit margin in the reshut is much lower than Israel. The only people who will get hurt by the ban are the consumers, who won’t be able to get alternative products locally.
The retailers are also upset because while their shelves will be empty of basic necessities, people can go to a Rami Levy store close to the reshut and buy whatever they want. The retailers also are worried about a black market that might pop up in response to the demand from the people. The consumers will be forced to pay higher prices that they cannot afford to do for smuggled products that might not be kept at the proper temperature.
What do you think? Was Israel justified in withholding tax revenues? Is the PA justified in boycotting Israeli products? Who is going to win this battle? Should there be an Israeli response to the boycott which is in response to Israel withholding tax revenues in response to the PA applying to join the ICC? And of course, the most important question- does this mean prices will increase here???