Palestinians may boycott UNICEF over business with Israel (JERUSALEM POST) By KHALED ABU TOAMEH, TOVAH LAZAROFF 05/31/12)
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The Palestinians are threatening to boycott the United Nations
Children’s Fund after the agency decided to accept offers from
Israeli firms to bid for construction work in the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian Contractors Union denounced UNICEF and warned
Palestinians against cooperating with Israeli firms.
The head of the union, Osama Kahil, said he received complaints from
Palestinian contractors who told him that Israeli firms had asked for
their cooperation in carrying out construction work in the Gaza
Strip, offering them half of the revenues.
“We contacted the head of UNICEF and held a meeting with her after
which we decided to boycott the agency until it backtracks on its
decision,” Kahil said. He added that Palestinians were outraged that
Israelis, who were “responsible for destroying the Gaza Strip,” were
being offered the opportunity to help carry out important projects.
The Contractors Union appealed to the Palestinian Authority to
intervene with UNICEF to stop it from “tampering with the blood and
rights of our people and their national sentiments.”
Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip threatened to hold protests
against UNICEF and to close its offices because of its readiness to
permit Israeli companies to take part in its projects. Hamas said it
would not allow Israel to carry out any work in the Gaza Strip.
UNICEF spokeswoman Catherine Weibel said that no contracts had been
awarded to any firms. She explained that UNICEF Special
Representative in the Occupied Palestinian territory Jean Gough had
met with the Palestinian Contractors Union on Tuesday.
“The priority and policy of the UNICEF office in the Occupied
Palestinian territory is to purchase goods and services from
qualified Palestinian manufacturers, authorized dealers and
companies. We only buy from other providers when goods are not
available,” Gough said.
Weibel explained that the project in question was a desalination
UNICEF’s preference, she said, was to use local suppliers. But if
Palestinian supplier could not provide the necessary parts then
Israel was the next option. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/31/12)
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