Abbas: boycott products from settlements, not all of Israel

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RAMALLAH: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday urged Palestinians to boycott products from Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but said this did not apply to items made elsewhere in Israel.

"It is not necessary, under any circumstances, for us to consume goods originating from settlements that were established on our territory," he said in Ramallah, where he met members of the movement that organized the boycott.

"We are very happy that our young people… went voluntarily to empty Palestinian homes of products from the settlements," Abbas added.

Thousands of young Palestinians began a door-to-door campaign on Tuesday against products made in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The initiative was launched by the Karameh (Dignity) Fund, established to promote the Palestinian economy and help those harmed by new restrictions on trade with the settlements.

"We are not boycotting Israel" itself, Abbas said, "because we have relations and we import" products from the Jewish state.

Last month he approved a law banning trade in goods produced in settlements, after a months-long campaign that has featured the public burning of products.

Those found guilty of trading in settlement goods face two to five years in prison and fines of up to $22,000 (€16,400).

The Yesha Council, the main settlers’ organization, has decried the campaign as "an act of terrorism and ill will."

It has called for the closure of "all Israeli ports to Palestinian imports and exports," and suggested that Palestinian funds held in Israel be used to compensate those companies affected.

Nearly half a million Israelis live in more than 120 settlements in the West Bank. The Palestinians regard the settlements as a threat to the creation of their independent and viable future state.

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