by Khaled Abu Toameh
So far, not one Palestinian Authority official has come out in public against the campaign of intimidating Palestinian businessmen. It will not only foil Kerry’s plan, but also scare away potential investors. Those making threats do not want to see prosperity; instead they want the Palestinians to continue living in misery in order to keep alive the fight against Israel. Once again, the biggest losers are the Palestinians.
After rejecting US Secretary of State John Kerry’s new plan to boost the Palestinian economy by investing $4 billion in the private sector, the Palestinians have begun threatening businessmen who want to work with Israeli counterparts.
Kerry’s plan, which was revealed at last week’s World Economic Forum in Jordan, has been condemned by many Palestinians as a U.S. attempt to bribe them into making political concessions to Israel.
But several Palestinian businessmen who attended the conference have welcomed Kerry’s economic plan and expressed a desire to meet with Israeli counterparts to talk about joint investments in the West Bank.
Some Palestinian businessmen who dared to meet with Israeli colleagues in the past few days are now facing threats and calls for boycotting them and their companies.
The threats are being made by various Palestinian organizations and individuals, as well as by political activists belonging to several Palestinian groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
One of the Palestinian businessmen under attack is Munib al-Masri, often described as the wealthiest Palestinian in the world.
Al-Masri has been strongly condemned by Palestinians for meeting with Israeli businessmen before, during and after the Jordan conference.
In his defense, al-Masri said that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas knew in advance about the meetings with Israelis.
Al-Masri expressed “regret” over the accusations and threats made by Palestinians campaigning against “normalization” with Israel.
Palestinian businessmen from the West bank city of Jenin who recently visited Haifa at the invitation of the Chamber of Commerce have also been targeted by the “anti-normalization” campaigners.
The campaign reached its peak this week when several Palestinian unions and political groups held a press conference in Ramallah to strongly condemn Palestinians who meet with Israelis.
“We reject and condemn normalization in theory and practice,” the activists declared.
The Palestinian Writers’ Union also joined the campaign of incitement and intimidation against Palestinian businessmen.
The chairman of the union, Murad Sudani, threatened to publish a “blacklist” with the names of businessmen, politicians and academics who are caught meeting with Israelis.
The campaign against Palestinian businessmen is being waged under the watchful eye of the Palestinian Authority leadership in the West Bank. So far, not one Palestinian Authority official has come out in public against the intimidation of Palestinian businessmen.
Nor did Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, a widely respected economist, come out in support of the businessmen.
Many of those responsible for the “anti-normalization” campaign are, in fact, affiliated with Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction.
The campaign of intimidation against Palestinian businessmen will not only foil Kerry’s plan to boost the Palestinian economy, but also scare away potential investors from launching badly needed projects in the West Bank.
The campaign has already resulted in the cancellation of scheduled meetings between Palestinian and Israeli businessmen. Once again, the biggest losers are the Palestinians.
Those who are threatening businessmen do not want to see economic prosperity in the Palestinian territories. Instead, they want Palestinians to continue living in misery and frustration in order to keep alive the fight against Israel.
Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim, is a veteran award-winning journalist who has been covering Palestinian affairs for nearly three decades. His article was originally published by Gatestone Institute on July 20, 2012. His articles can be accessed at http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/author/Khaled+Abu+Toameh.