Palestinians boycott Israeli products
August 17, 1997
Web posted at: 12:05 p.m. EDT (1605 GMT)
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Palestinian leaders Sunday reaffirmed their commitment to the regional peace process, but said tit-for-tat sanctions against Israel were being implemented.
The officials also indicated that Palestinian "national
unity" talks, which are to include the Islamic resistance
movement Hamas, would go ahead this week.
Khaled Salam, economic adviser to Palestinian leader Yasser
Arafat, said an economic embargo would be gradually
implemented after the move was approved by a nine-member
Cabinet committee Saturday night.
Israel closed the West Bank and Gaza Strip and withheld
millions of dollars in tax revenue it owes the Palestinians
after 15 people were killed in two suicide bombings by
suspected Islamic militants in Jerusalem last month.
Israel said it would only ease the measures once Arafat made
a 100 percent commitment to cracking down on terrorism.
"We will start a gradual embargo of Israeli products because
we want the Israeli producers to feel the effect of the
closure, too," Salam said.
Salam said that the Palestinian Authority would contact
Israeli business leaders, including the local makers of Pepsi
and Coca-Cola. He indicated they would face a boycott if they
did not help put pressure on Israel.
According to a Palestinian Trade Ministry official the
embargo will include:
- Cigarettes, soft drinks, chocolate, cookies.
- Other goods that can be replaced by Palestinian products.
David Bar-Illan, senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu, said the measures would hurt the Palestinians more than Israel.
"He (Arafat) is showing a very antagonistic, hostile and
belligerent face," Bar-Illan said.
Arafat says he is committed to peace
Arafat rejected Israeli criticism that Wednesday's "national
unity" talks with several Palestinian groups amounted to
"appeasement to terrorism."
"No doubt we are against terrorist activities ... but this is
a Palestinian interest and we are insisting to carry on
dialogue with all Palestinian groups."
The Palestinian Authority says about $9 million worth of
Israeli goods are imported into the West Bank and Gaza Strip
Hamas, which Israel suspects is behind the latest Jerusalem
bomb attacks, is expected to attend the Palestinian talks.
It also took part in a first round of unity talks in February
but later withdrew, saying its activists remained in
Militant members of Hamas have claimed responsibility for a
series of bomb attacks against Israeli targets.
Correspondent Jerrold Kessel and The Associated Press
contributed to this report.