A Palestininan human rights activist who was in Oslo this week is urging Norway’s largest trade union confederation, LO, to drop its boycott of Israel. He claims it will hurt Palestinians more than it might help them.
Bassem Eid, who has worked with human rights issues for more than 20 years, also fears any boycott will hinder the dialogue that’s so important in any peace or reconciliation effort.
“What folks on the West Bank and in Gaza want is a better economic life,” Eid told Oslo newspaper Dagsavisen. “We need more jobs and better education and health care systems. Boycotting Israel will do the opposite. In practice it will fire Palestinian workers.”
Eid is also highly critical of the international BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel. LO has claimed it has no formal contact with BDS and launched its boycott independently.
LO members voted, by a slim majority, at their congress this past spring to boycott Israel and goods produced in Palestinian areas occupied by Israel. The boycott was approved despite strong opposition from many LO members and over the objections of the Labour Party and LO’s own leadership. It has sparked international reaction earlier as well.
The leader of LO’s international division told Dagsavisen that the labour group “had an interesting discussion” with Eid and is willing to listen to other opinions, but that the measure approving the boycott still stands.