TEL AVIV— Just a few days before the decision by the European Parliament to label products coming from Israeli settlements a survey was released to gauge Palestinian opinion about boycotts as a way to punish Israel's policy.

The Jerusalem Media and Communications Center (JMCC), a Palestinian research institute, surveyed 1200 people from East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza about the boycott issue. Some 50% said they supported a full boycott on all made-in-Israel products, yet only 10% said they wanted a boycott of products only from Jewish settlements. In other words, Palestinians don't care if the products come from the West Bank or from Tel Aviv.

In a similar survey published six months ago, 60% of the people said they supported a full boycott on Israeli products, which means Palestinian support overall for the international sanctions is declining. Only one-third of the respondents said they themselves refuse to buy any Israeli products (often there are no Palestinian substitutes for certain Israeli-made product), and 12% did not support any boycott at all.

The idea of a boycott on Israeli products has been consuming Palestinians for the past decade, since the movement first began abroad. Palestinian officials who visited Europe in the past were asked how could the Europeans be expected to help against the settlements if Palestinians themselves were buying their products.

Basic economics

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad initiated a law at that time that prohibited buying any settler-made products, which included a public list of all the Israeli factories in the West Bank, as well as fines and prison sentences of 2-5 years to those who sell, deal or store settlements products. Moreover, Palestinians who worked in Israeli factories were required to quit their job and find a different one in Palestinian factories.

Even with the measures taken back then by the Palestinian government, the boycott on products coming from Israeli settlements failed for simple economic reasons. Today 40,000 Palestinians work in Israeli settlements and factories in the West Bank. The salary of a Palestinian working in Israeli factories is three times higher than the average West Bank salary.

Though half the Palestinians may still support the boycott on Israeli products, the boycott has no real chance to succeed since the Palestinian economy is so utterly dependent on Israel.