The president of Palestine doesn’t support a boycott of Israel, a stance that is drawing ire from some pro-Palestinians.
Mahmoud Abbas made the comment while in South Africa for the memorial service of Nelson Mandela. There is a large South African faction of the BDS—Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions—where some protestors equate colonial apartheid with Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
“No, we do not support the boycott of Israel,” Abbas said to reporters Monday. “But we ask everyone to boycott the products of the settlements. Because the settlements are in our territories. It is illegal.”
“And the Israelis should first of all stop building in our territories, should stop everything in our territories…But we do not ask anyone to boycott Israel itself…we have relations with Israel, we have mutual recognition of Israel.”
A BDS founder, Omar Barghouti, told the Electric Intifada that Abbas’ remarks go against “the Palestinian national consensus that has strongly supported BDS against Israel since 2005.”
“There is no Palestinian political party, trade union, NGO network or mass organization that does not strongly support BDS. Any Palestinian official who lacks a democratic mandate and any real public support, therefore, cannot claim to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people when it comes to deciding our strategies of resistance to Israel’s regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid,” Barghouti said.
“Any Palestinian official who today explicitly speaks against boycotting Israel — particularly in a country like South Africa, where the ruling party, leading trade unions, churches and other civil society groups have warmly endorsed BDS — only shows how aloof he is from his own people’s aspirations for freedom, justice and equality, and how oblivious he is to our struggle for their inalienable rights.”
The BDS calls for a boycott of all Israeli products and services, no matter the region, and has a strong presence on US college campuses.