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Palestinian officials affirm 'respect' for BDS after Abbas disavowal
Published Saturday 21/12/2013 (updated) 23/12/2013 12:28
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Irish protesters in support of the boycott of Israeli products
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian officials in South Africa released a statement clarifying that they are not opposed to the boycott of Israel on Friday.

The statement comes in the wake of controversial anti-boycott statements made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas while he was visiting South Africa to mark the death of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.

The statement, which was released jointly by the Embassy of Palestine in South Africa and BDS South Africa, stopped short of declaring its support for the boycott of Israel.

It did, however, confirm its support for the boycott of Israeli settlement products and stressing that it "respect(s) and uphold(s) the right of Palestinian civil society to initiate and lead local and global BDS campaigns."

The statement also expressed "deep appreciation" for the efforts of the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement "to uphold international law and universal principles of human rights."

"With the view that the Israeli settlements are illegitimate and an obstruction to a just peace, the Palestinian Authority has accordingly initiated an official boycott of all Israeli settlement products in the occupied Palestinian territory," the statement read, pointing out that it supports this move "as a first step."

The statement highlighted the historical importance of the international BDS solidarity movement in defeating the apartheid system in South Africa, and stressed that "if Nelson Mandela and the South African people defeated apartheid, the Palestinians too will defeat the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands."

The statement was released amid an uproar after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told South African newspaper "The Star" on December 11 that he does not support the boycott of Israel.

"No we do not support the boycott of Israel," Abbas is reported to have told a press conference during his visit to South Africa to mark the death of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.

"But we ask everyone to boycott the products of the settlements. Because the settlements are in our territories. It is illegal … But we don't ask anyone to boycott Israel itself. We have relations with Israel, we have mutual recognition of Israel."

The statements provoked outrage among activists, who saw in his words a condemnation of the growing movement to isolate Israel politically, economically, and culturally in order to support the Palestinian struggle.

The statement released by the Embassy of Palestine in South Africa, however, disputed this.

"Recent comments made in South Africa by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (and Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization), regarding the boycott of Israeli settlements and products, seem to have been taken out of context and misconstrued by some members of the media and members of the Israeli lobby," the statement argued.

Prior to the recent statement's release, prominent BDS activist Omar Barghouti stressed the the widespread support for the boycott of Israel within Palestinian civil society.

"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," he told alternative media outlet Electronic Intifada on December 12.

"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," Barghouti added.
1 ) Mel / USA
21/12/2013 22:31
"But we don't ask anyone to boycott Israel...We have relations with Israel, we have mutual recognition of Israel."?Pardon,but what"mutual recognition"does Israel have with Palestine Mons.Abbas?Apart from the unilateral,'recognition'by Israel that Palestinian Muslims/Christians must exist only under Israeli duress&control!And,your PA(factional)"relations"with Israel,are as a SERF to a master,only!Palestine is almost landless & powerless & the PA feeds off Israel as Israel feeds off UStaxes. BDS!!

2 ) Colin Wright / USA
22/12/2013 03:26
Abbas is getting pretty pathetic. The same thing happened to the leaders of Vichy France. You cannot appease Nazism.

3 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
22/12/2013 09:10
BDS = war. You either want peace or war. You can't have both.

4 ) Rami / Palestine
22/12/2013 15:26
#3 Your dillusional. BDS doesn't = War. Land Annexation, Human Rights Violations, the Gaza Blockade, the Apartheid Wall, the night raids, the arbitrary arrests, the continued torture, the lethal attacks on unarmed protesters, the demolition of homes, the attacks on unarmed Gaza fishermen, uprooting of agricultural lands, the use of white phosphorous and hellfire missiles on civilian populations, the continued occupation of Palestine, South Lebanon and Syrian Golan Heights. THESE are acts of war.

5 ) Lilith / The World
22/12/2013 16:06
This is the way to go if you don't want peace. We know they don't they wouldn't have refused it so many times otherwise

6 ) shirley / australia
22/12/2013 16:24
this is what the pathetic bds movement and pals have trapped themselves in pals have aright to resist any way including armed resistence and pa only have bds since it strated talks anow abass is weakening that it was amistake historical to start talks pals have another option defy the US and go to UN and join un bodies if pa are not willing to defy the US youare trapped the US or EU can not deny the state of palestine right to oin all uN bodies and proves US trying to get rid ofstate 194

7 ) Robby / USA
22/12/2013 21:01
Why doesn't the PA prevent Palestinians from working in the settlements?

8 ) Robert Haymond / Israel
23/12/2013 07:13
#7: If the PA would try to prevent all the construction workers and Arab contractors working in the Yishuveem there would be a total revolt as their (Arabs) livelihood is based on Israel. Same with the Arabs who work at Rahmy-Levys including managerial help. Same with the one thousand Arabs working at the Barkan Industrial Park, some with the same employer for over a decade. Reported amount of business between the Westbank and Israel: 5 billion per year.

9 ) Robert Haymond / Israel
23/12/2013 07:19
Further to #7: The Jerusalem Arbitration Centre (JAC) was just established in east Jerusalem to arbitrate business conflicts between the Westbank and Israel as, heretofore, there had been no effective means to do that. The economies are intertwined. If Abbas were to try to obstruct/stop it, he wouldn't last. The problem is the corruption and outright nepotism on the part of Westbank leaders and administrators. This is a known and taken-for-granted fact in these parts.

10 ) Rachamim Dwek / Israel
23/12/2013 09:36
BDS is a stock Anti Senitic scam. Barghouti, a confirmed racist who believes in Biological Determinism freely admits that even if Palestine achieved full independence BDS wouldnt change one iota because its goal is the utter destruction of Israel. Asked why? He says, "Because its Jewish." Hating something because it is Jewish is as Anti Semitic as it gets. What should we expect from a man born in Qatar, raised in Egypt, but who was given Israeli citizenship in 1991 because of pre-48 roots?

11 ) Rami / Palestine
23/12/2013 14:18
#10 How long did it take you to invent that question and answer session with Barghouti? It never happened and you know it. I'll give you a cookie for your attempt though. Now be a good kid and go share it with the rest of your racist zionist buddies like Robert, Brian and Lilith.

12 ) Robby / USA
23/12/2013 18:48
9 ) Robert Haymond / Israel - yeah, I know. My company has labs in Israel and well over 20% of the employees are Arab. These are high paying, high tech jobs. I'm sure the other people here wouldn't want to read about those, no story there, huh?
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