ISRAEL TAKES IT SERIOUSLY
Indeed, the Israeli government has started to take seriously the possibility that Israel could by boycotted by the international community, especially after the EU decided to boycott settlement products. It is interesting to note that 32 percent of Israel's exports go to the EU, with experts predicting that a boycott could cost Israel $8 billion a year.
The Israeli government, together with its American friends began a campaign designed to sabotage a potential boycott with measures such as setting aside a budget to launch a counter campaign, and preparing to issue legislation (in the United States) that prevents a boycott and threatens to boycott any party that dares to boycott Israel.
If the mere threat of a boycott has done all this while talks are going on, what could it achieve if the talks collapse and Israel is exposed to the entire world as a racist, colonial, occupying, enemy of peace?
Some might say that the EU decision played a large part in pushing the idea of a boycott forwards. Indeed the European step was intimately related to the peace process; the EU linked its boycott with Palestinian agreement to restart peace talks – which reflected the Europeans' conviction that peace would not be possible to achieve without pressuring the Israelis, as Israel would have little incentive to make peace with the much weaker Palestinians unless it is under pressure.
This being the case, the charade that is the peace process must be stopped immediately, as it only serves to mislead the world that a settlement is possible – which it is not thanks to Israel's intransigence and the hopelessly skewed balance of power between the two sides.
It must be made clear to all that the Israeli government bears full responsibility for the failure of peace talks – as former Israeli governments were responsible for all previous peace initiatives since the [U.S.] Rogers Plan of 1969. There is no reason to indulge in mutual recrimination; continuing with a peace process that is not based on recognized international terms of reference can only lead to the loss of Palestinian rights.
The current peace process, held under sole American oversight, could only end in one of three ways: endless negotiations or an unfair settlement or a new confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Palestinians have to wake up to the fact that they will never be offered a fair deal, not by the Israelis nor by the Americans. The Palestinian leadership, in its pursuit of statehood, has tried to separate the issue of Palestinian independence from its twin, the right of refugees to return. Far from achieving statehood, the leadership only succeeded in watering down the right of return. Now, the Palestinians are being asked to rescind the right of return, in addition to sharing east Jerusalem and the West Bank with Israel. In other words, there will be no Palestinian state, only an autonomous entity.
Boycotting Israel is one of the most effective strategies the Palestinians could employ. But in order for a boycott to succeed, the joke called the peace process must stop. The world must be made to understand that peace in the Middle East is impossible to achieve unless real pressure is brought to bear on Israel so as to make the Israelis realize that continuing their colonialist and racist policies would threaten the very existence of their state.
In this context, it would be impossible to reconcile a boycott (with a view to imposing sanctions) with continued observation of the political, economic, and security conditions of the Oslo agreement (including recognition of Israel's peaceful existence). The occupation cannot be detached from the occupying power; in other words, Israel must be made to lose its very legitimacy if it chooses to continue to occupy and colonize Palestinian land.
Israel is not going to reverse its occupation, not to mention its entire colonial system, unless it feels that its very existence is threatened by a total boycott. As left-wing Israeli thinker Ze’ev Sternhell once observed, ‘It is impossible to embrace the occupier and resist occupation at the same time.
There is another important point that needs to be addressed: Why is the boycott movement so strong in Europe and a little less so in America, while it is so weak in the rest of the world – including the Arab world, which is supposed to be leading the way? After all, the Arabs are supposed to know that Israel is not about bringing together stateless Jews, but a spearhead for colonial designs to keep the Arab world divided and thus make it easier for the West to plunder its resources and keep it in a state of backwardness.
It is only in this context that we can understand why Israel took part in the tripartite aggression on Egypt in 1956, why it launched the 1967 war, why it invaded Lebanon in 1982, why it bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, and why it continues to attack Syria.
The boycott movement is strongest in countries where democracy is strong. The EU did not decide to boycott settlement products only to encourage the Palestinians to resume peace talks; public opinion in EU countries, fed up with Israeli behavior, also played a part in pressuring European governments to act.
Needless to say, energetic action on the part of the Palestinians plays an important part in making a boycott succeed. This applies especially to Palestinian and Arab communities living in the West.
The Palestinian leadership only weakens a boycott by restricting its interactions with Arab governments at the expense of Arab peoples.