Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday signed a law banning Palestinians from working in Israeli settlements and selling settlement goods, with violators facing up to five years in prison and stiff fines.
The law marks the Palestinians' most determined campaign against the settlements Israel has built on lands they want for a state. The Palestinians vehemently oppose the settlements but many rely on them for work.
Nearly half a million Israelis live on war-won land claimed by the Palestinians, including nearly 300,000 Israelis in more than 120 settlements in the West Bank. Israel has resisted U.S. demands for a settlement freeze, agreeing only to a temporary slowdown.
Palestinian government officials estimate that between 20,000 and 30,000 Palestinians work in settlements and that between $200 million and $500 million worth of settlement goods are sold to Palestinians in the West Bank every year.
In recent months, Palestinian security forces began intercepting and confiscating shipments of settlement goods to Palestinian businesses. Products range from agricultural goods to cosmetics.