Israeli left takes on boycott law

Netanyahu: boycott bill necessary to bolster his support

Netanyahu: boycott bill necessary to bolster his support

The law passed last week by the Knesset that places sanctions on those who call for a boycott of settlement produce is now heading for the legal arena - and the marketplace.

Activists from the left-wing party Meretz have launched a campaign on the web and in supermarkets to enable the public to identify products made in Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Members of Meretz's youth movement this week left green stickers saying "manufactured in settlements" on a wide variety of foodstuffs in supermarkets in the Tel Aviv area. The party also posted a do-it-yourself print-out of the sticker on its Facebook page.

The party's secretary-general Dror Morag explained that he wanted Israeli consumers to make their own informed decisions. "I used to be against any sort of boycott from the right or from the left," said Mr Morag, "but today it is clear that the debate is not about settlement products, but the very soul of Israeli democracy."

Meretz put boycott stickers on food in shops

National Union MK Arie Eldad responded by writing to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and demanding that he begin criminal procedures against Mr Morag.

The Justice Ministry did not comment but a senior legal source said: "Weinstein is not a big fan of the boycott law and he will probably think that the authorities have more pressing priorities."

Meanwhile, private businessmen among the settlers are planning to use the law to launch their own lawsuits.

Winery owner Yaakov Berg from Psagot said he was collecting evidence of boycott calls by movements such as Peace Now and Meretz for a damages claim he planned to file.

"We will invest all the damages we receive in building new settlements and strengthening the existing ones," he said. Yair Hirsh, manager of olive oil producer Ahiya Farm, said that he had already consulted with lawyers on claiming damages if sales go down.

Not everyone is convinced that will happen. At least one Meretz member has criticised the stickers campaign for "encouraging people to buy settlers' products". One right-wing movement, Yisrael Sheli, has even produced its own stickers in the belief that Israelis will actually prefer to buy products manufactured in the settlements.

A survey published on Friday by Yediot Ahronot showed the Israeli public is split down the middle on the issue, with 47 per cent supporting the law and 47 against.

Last updated: 2:46pm, July 21 2011