The proximity talks have kicked off, but it seems as though the Palestinian and the Israeli sides are only growing farther apart.
Referring to the Palestinian boycott of West Bank settlement goods, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday, "It is unacceptable that the Palestinians are waging an economic war against us with the sense that everything is allowed. We must show the world in which direction they are facing."
Netanyahu, who spoke during the Likud faction meeting in the Knesset, said, "The Palestinians have made efforts to block us from being accepted into the OECD despite the proximity talks and a number of gestures we have made towards them."
Netanyahu during the Likud faction meeting (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"Israel strives for economic peace. We have removed checkpoints; we have made life easier; we are always taking action to advance the Palestinian economic. Despite all this, the Palestinian side is opposed to economic peace and is take steps that ultimately hurt them. This also refers to the economic boycott they are spearheading and the pollution of our water sources," said Netanyahu.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, for his part, said in an interview with French news channel France 24, "We received an invitation to the White House without an accurate date, but I think it will be next month."
Last month, the Palestinian Authority sent a pamphlet to every Palestinian household containing a detailed list of 500 Israeli products it seeks to boycott. The boycott campaign is bolstered by a recent law passed that makes not following the boycott punishable by imprisonment and fines.
"Whoever trades settlement products, participates in or aids the trade of these products or their importation will be jailed for two to five years and will pay a fine of 10,000 Jordanian dinar (NIS 55,000 or $14,360)," the new law stipulates.
Whoever transports or helps transport goods from the West Bank settlements into the territories is likely to be jailed for three to six months and fined 2,000 Jordanian dinar (NIS 11,000 or $2,870) and his license revoked and his vehicle confiscated.
On Sunday, the PA labor minister said that her ministry will start organizing to absorb 6,000 female Palestinian workers currently employed in West Bank settlements as the boycott is enforced. The Palestinians see the boycott effort as central to their non-violent national effort to form a state.