DEFRA has issued supermarkets with guidance on labelling to differentiate between Palestinian produce and Israeli settler produce from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Although it is only voluntary, this will go some way to helping retail purchasers who would like to avoid sustaining the settlements but are eager to contribute to a prosperous and diverse Palestinian economy.
It isn’t a boycott call, but a move to support the Palestinian economy and to put weight behind the rhetoric about the settlements being an obstacle to peace. It will incidentally assist the minority of people who hope to sustain the settlements or would like to avoid contributing to a prosperous Palestinian economy, but that’s neither here nor there – it’s important to know the origins of your potential purchases.
I’ll be interested to see whether Israel’s foreign ministry spokesman’s fears about boycotters seizing on the guidance are born out. The dominant campaigners in the boycott movement are reluctant to distinguish between the OPT and the state of Israel. They are out to end Israel’s existence and will be trying to conceal their disappointment at this labelling initiative, emphasising the distinction between Israel and its OPT settlements as it does. I haven’t noticed any celebrations at BIG or Inminds, for example.
War On Want are unhappy with the guidance and are calling for a ban on settlement produce. Until they demonstrate that their principles are universal, rather than singularly directed at Israel (search their site for ‘boycott’), they should be ignored.