The growing boycott movement against Israel is starting to have some real effect. Several major international companies doing business in support of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank have suffered major disinvestment campaigns and changed their policies. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reacted furiously to the European Union’s (EU) new requirement that its 28-member nations must clearly label the origin of goods produced in the illegal Israeli colonies in the West Bank.
Netanyahu has sought to play the innocent victim in the dispute and has called the move discriminatory, while he has ordered his government to suspend diplomatic contact with the EU on peace issues, although leaving all other contacts open — including all contacts with member states. So, for example, he will not talk about peace with EU diplomats, but will do so with British diplomats, even though Britain has insisted on colony labelling for some time.
But all this bluster has not distracted Netanyahu from his real priority, which is to expand Israel’s grip on the West Bank. His government is continuing to build new housing all over the West Bank and so far in 2015 it has demolished 22 structures displacing 110 Palestinians as part of its implacable campaign to drive out Palestinians and use the space to build what Netanyahu’s supporters call a “Greater Israel”. It is essential that as the eyes of the world are focused on trouble across the Middle East, the civil wars in Iraq and Syria, the campaign in Yemen and the new decisions to bomb Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), no one should forget that the Palestinians need the same international support that they have always deserved. The EU decision to insist on colony labelling shows how the Palestinians should not lose hope. There are people in the world who care and take action to help. It may not be enough to stop the occupation, but it does show that the justice of the Palestinian cause is not forgotten.