BNC Statement

We do not want our colonial chains loosened. We want to shatter them!

The BDS movement’s leadership condemns the World Economic Forum sponsored normalization efforts with apartheid Israel.

Occupied Palestine, 30 January 2023 - The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest Palestinian coalition leading the global BDS movement, condemns the economic normalization initiative launched by the World Economic Forum (WEF) with the participation of Israeli and Palestinian business people and calls on all Palestinian participants to immediately withdraw from it.

Regardless of the intentions of some participants, these "economic peace" activities undermine the inalienable rights of our people, the most important of which are our right to self-determination and the right of our refugees to return home. They also immorally promote an imaginary "peace" that does not require the realization of these inalienable, internationally recognized rights.

This recent economic normalization initiative, which leading Palestinian businessman Samer Khoury tried to justify and promote, is no different from the other “economic peace” projects which offer minor economic relief for some at the expense of the rights of the entire Palestinian people. By calling merely for improving some of the conditions of oppression to allow more profit opportunities for a tiny but hegemonic economic elite that has linked its prosperity with Israel’s occupation, these projects deepen the dependence of the Palestinian economy and the Palestinian people as a whole on the occupation. They call for loosening the chains that Israel’s 74-year-old regime of settler-colonialism, apartheid and military occupation has put around our necks, instead of contributing to our collective struggle to shatter them.

This initiative stands in opposition to the absolute majority of the national Palestinian business community living under the boot of Israeli colonial oppression, who categorically oppose normalization, reject linking their interests with that of the oppressor, and are part of the collective quest for liberation.

While the anti-Palestinian president of the World Economic Forum is sponsoring this normalization framework to whitewash Israeli crimes against humanity, he has reportedly frozen the membership of the Palestinian businessman Khaled Sabawi from WEF’s “Young Global Leaders” network because he dared to call on WEF to condemn Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians, especially in Gaza, just as it condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine. WEF’s hypocrisy, stemming from a colonial mentality, is now exposed and condemned more than ever.

The domination of forces of unmasked fascism and fundamentalism in the current Israeli far-right government is exposing more than ever Israel’s ongoing Nakba against Indigenous Palestinians, despite the best efforts by WEF and other institutions dominated by the colonial West to cover up the true nature of Israel’s regime of oppression. The gradual ethnic cleansing of our people, especially in Jerusalem, the Naqab, the Jordan Valley, Masafer Yatta, and Al-Khan Al-Ahmar, and the continued genocidal siege of two million Palestinians in Gaza are being exposed more than ever. This requires a unified, collective Palestinian response which excludes all normalization projects with the oppressor, especially those involving prominent and influential businessmen.

Israel may have succeeded in forging bonds of normalization with Arab dictatorships, including the UAE, Morocco and Bahrain, but the fraternal peoples of the entire Arab region are consistently rejecting normalization and asserting the centrality of the Palestinian cause, as was evident recently in the men’s World Cup in Qatar. It is therefore doubly shameful for Palestinian businesspeople to engage in economic normalization at this time more than any other.

The BNC reiterates its call on Palestinian and Arab businessmen/women to:

1) Immediately withdraw from WEF’s economic normalization initiative and all other normalization activities; and

2) Condemn the colonial hypocrisy of WEF and its president -- who refused to denounce the Israeli massacres in Gaza while strongly condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine -- and pressure them to exclude Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid regime and its crimes and to reinstate the membership of the Palestinian-Canadian businessman Khaled Sabawi in WEF’s “Young Global Leaders” network.

Confronting normalization is an important part of our people’s struggle for freedom and dignity. Don’t undermine it. 


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