Nov. 30, 2015
EU Labeling Is No Way to Help the Palestinians – Moshe Arens (Ha’aretz)
- Poor economic conditions are one of the many causes for the recent upsurge in Palestinian violence. Over 25% of the Palestinian labor force in the West Bank is unemployed. The GDP per capita there is about $4,000 compared to Israel’s $25,000. The average wage there is about $22 a day.
- Israel allows over 100,000 Palestinian workers to work in Israel, but that is not the only way to support the Palestinian economy. The industrial zones, like Barkan and Mishor Adumim, provide employment for Palestinian workers living in the vicinity, a far better way of assisting the Palestinian economy.
- Over 10,000 Palestinians are currently employed in such industrial zones, earning salaries and receiving social benefits as provided by Israeli law. Their employment conditions are far superior to those of Palestinian workers crossing into Israel in the early hours of the morning and returning home at nightfall.
- The EU has, as usual, got it all wrong when its bureaucrats call on members to label products originating in the West Bank industrial zones in anticipation that such products will be boycotted by European shoppers.
- If their plans prove to be effective, they will hurt the Palestinians living in the territories, increase unemployment there, and force Palestinians into lower-paying jobs.
- The industrial zones contribute far more to the Palestinian economy than do the subsidies provided by the EU to the Palestinian Authority. The EU would do better to encourage European shoppers to purchase products originating in the industrial zones.
The writer served as Israel’s Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs.