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US intellectuals call for boycott of Israeli settlements

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This picture taken on September 23, 2016 shows Israeli construction cranes and excavators at a building site of new housing units in the Israeli settlement of Neve Yaakov, in the northern area of East Jerusalem al-Quds. (Photo by AFP)

More than 70 American intellectuals and academics have circulated an open letter, calling for targeted boycott of Israeli settlements and the products originating from them.

The signatories publicized the letter through The New York Review of Books magazine, Israeli paper Ha’aretz reported.

They called on the US government to "exclude settlements from trade benefits accorded to Israeli enterprises, and to strip all such Israeli entities in the West Bank from the tax exemptions that the Internal Revenue Service currently grants to American nonprofit tax-exempt organizations."

They, however, stopped short of urging such punitive measures against Israeli entities located elsewhere within the Palestinian land which Israel occupied in 1967, when it seized the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Ever since the occupation, the territories have been dotted with 120 settlements. There is international consensus that these settlements have been constructed on occupied territory, and are therefore illegal. The United Nations shares a similar stance.

Though not hosting settlements, the rest of the Palestinian land has been interspersed with numerous checkpoints, which severely restrict the Palestinians’ freedom of movement.

Tel Aviv, meanwhile, imposes recurrent wholesale sieges on Palestinian towns and villages, claiming that the residents had resorted to violence.

The Americans, though, said the rest of the Palestinian land which is settlement-free but still under Israeli occupation should not come under “an economic, political or cultural boycott.”

On Sunday, US Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, asserting “her commitment to countering attempts to delegitimize Israel, including through the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement.”

This picture taken on June 5, 2015 shows people walking past a sign painted on a wall in the town of Bethlehem in the south of the Tel Aviv-occupied West Bank on June 5, 2015, calling for a boycott of Israeli products coming from illegal settlements. (Photo by AFP)

The BDS movement was initiated in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations that were pushing for “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”

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