An Alternative to Boycotts or Divestment for Israel

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault invited international leaders to Paris on May 30 to make plans for reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Peace and economic security go hand in hand. Israel is thriving despite boycotts by some European countries while the economic outlook is dismal for Gaza and the West Bank. “There is little evidence that boycotting Israel will have a significant impact on Israel’s thriving economy, let alone help revive the stagnant peace process,” argue Ian Shapiro, director of the MacMillan Center at Yale and YaleGlobal’s publisher, and Yale student Nicholas Strong. “The boycott has, however, added to the ranks of unemployed Palestinians, fueling the misery in the West Bank and Gaza.” Boycotts forced closure of a SodaStream manufacturing plant in the West Bank that hired 500 Palestinians. Shapiro and Strong argue for special political zones, cooperatives of homes, businesses, schools and other services with joint ownership by Israelis and Palestinians along with tax and regulatory incentives. A possible model for such zones is New York’s Co-op City.