Settlement factories are just what Palestinians need

Those calling for a boycott of Israeli investments in Judea and Samaria may have the best interests of the Palestinians at heart, but seem to lack knowledge of basic economic principles.

Moshe_Arens_cropped-150x150By Moshe Arens

Chem huzhe chem luche − the worse the better − Russian revolutionaries in Tsarist times used to say. The worse things get, the better the chances for the revolution.

That also seems to be the attitude of the advocates of those calling for a boycott of goods produced in Israeli factories located beyond the 1949 armistice lines and employing Palestinian workers. These factories not only provide much needed employment for Palestinians, but they also contribute to the Palestinian economy in Judea and Samaria. Their move to other locations would be a blow to the Palestinian economy and make matters there worse and not better.

Do the advocates of boycott really believe that harming the Palestinian economy will make things better? A demonstration of their approach was the recent uproar about the SodaStream factory in Mishor Adumim and Scarlett Johansson, who has been promoting SodaStream.

Here is a plant located in the industrial park of Ma’ale Adumim employing hundreds of Palestinians, who work together with hundreds of Israeli workers. For the Palestinian workers it is an opportunity to work under conditions that are considerably better than most of the existing employment opportunities in Judea and Samaria. Their salaries are not only of immediate benefit to their families but are also an infusion into the rickety economy managed by the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria.

The SodaStream factory in Mishor Adumim is an Israeli investment in the Palestinian economy. Those calling for a boycott of SodaStream products are in effect calling for a disinvestment in the Palestinian economy.

There are a number of industrial parks in Judea and Samaria in which hundreds of factories and businesses employ close to 20,000 Palestinians and a similar number of Israelis. The largest areMishor Adumim near the city of Ma’ale Adumim, and the Barkan industrial park near the city of Ariel. Among the better known factories established in these parks are SodaStream and Keter plastics.

Employment in factories located in the industrial parks in Judea and Samaria provides Palestinians with good salaries and makes an important contribution to the economy of the area under the PA’s control, which suffers from over 20 percent unemployment.

The campaign waged by supporters of the Palestinian cause to boycott products of Israeli factories located in these industrial parks has caused some of them to transfer the factories into Israel. Thus the Swedish owner of Mul-T-Lock, a world leader in the development of security products, moved its plant from Barkan to Yavneh in Israel. As did Unilever, the Dutch owner of the Bagel Bagel bakery, which moved to Safed. It was a loss for the Palestinians who were employed there and a net loss for the Palestinian economy. That would similarly be the case if SodaStream were to move its plant from Mishor Adumim under pressure from those advocating a boycott of its products.

Israeli investments in factories in the industrial parks located beyond the 1949 armistice lines, or what some prefer to call the 1967 lines, are what are called Foreign Direct Investments − investments made by outsiders that benefit a local economy. Countries around the globe, especially countries with backward economies, seek to obtain such investments. They are exactly what the Palestinian economy in Judea and Samaria needs. They provide work and income for Palestinians at this time and will be economically beneficial in the future, regardless of what the final status of the area will be.

Opponents of such investments and those calling for a boycott of the products of plants built by such investments may have the best interests of the Palestinians at heart, but seem to lack knowledge of basic economic principles. Instead of calling for a boycott of SodaStream they should be cheering Scarlett Johannson.

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