May 31, 2020

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Palestinian Authority officially embraces BDS – slowly

It wasn’t that long ago that the Palestinian Authority was on the record as adamantly opposing boycotting Israel, to the point of actually arresting BDS protesters.

Things have changed, though.

This week, the Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh and 12 members of his cabinet are meeting in Cairo for four days.

The stated purpose of the meeting is to come up with a plan to boycott Israeli goods and replace them with Jordanian, Iraqi and Egyptian goods. 

The attendees include the ministers of economy, agriculture, public works, higher education, endowments, interior, local government, communications, transport, energy, foreign affairs and finance.

The Palestinian economy is heavily dependent on imports from Israel now but the percentage of imports from Israel has been steadily decreasing over the years, While virtually all imports were from Israel in the 1990s, in 2016 only 58% of its imports came from Israel.

Interestingly, the meeting this week doesn’t seem to be at all about Palestinian exports, of which 83% went to Israel as of 2016. This is especially interesting since while the PA exports tens of millions of dollars worth of items to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar, there are virtually no exports to Egypt – the country hosting this conference. This seems to indicate that this conference isn’t about diversifying the number of trade partners for Palestinians as it is for boycotting Israeli goods.

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