|Aerial view of Ariel settlement in West Bank 370.(Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)|
European NGOs: Ban settlement products
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
A group of 22 European NGOs publishes report recommending that European governments ban West Bank settlement products.
A group of 22 European NGOs has recommended that its governments ban West Bank
settlement products, in a report that it published on Tuesday morning.
also called on the European Union and member states to pass legislation to more
clearly label imports to its continent from West Bank settlements.
report which was publicized by the London based Crisis Action group highlighted
World Bank data, provided by Israel, to argue that settlements goods remain part
of Europe’s trade with Israel.
“The value of goods produced in West Bank
settlements and exported to Europe is US$300 million per year,” the World Bank
said in a September report.
The NGO report, said that this was 15 times
greater than Europe’s volume of trade with Palestinian products.
British Member of Parliament Phyllis Starkey told The Jerusalem Post, that the
report was released now because, “the issue of settlements has gone up the
political agenda at the European Union.”
She pointed to the strong
statement issued by the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council in May, which affirmed a
commitment to use existing EU legislation against settlement
The EU is moving from its long-standing rhetoric to action,
The NGO report, “Trading Away Peace: How Europe Helps
Sustain Illegal Israeli settlements” was addressed to European governments and
the EU to help support what appears to be a policy shift, she said.
number of European governments are discussing how to label settlement products
for consumers, she said, but did not name the countries weighing those
Starkey noted that the report was also published in advance of
Ireland’s six-month term as President of the EU, from January to June of
Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore has already said that the EU
should consider banning settlement products.
According to NGO report,
European states, should, “Ensure correct consumer labeling of all settlement
products as a minimum measure, as done by the UK and Denmark but also covering
Israel already labels its products with the
address of its origin within the country. It does so, because settlement
products are not part of Israel’s taxfree agreement with the European Union, and
as such are charged a tariff fee.
But the report said that this kind of
labeling placed too much of a burden on European customs to determine if that
location was in the West Bank.
European governments must insist that
Israeli exporters stop labeling West Bank settlement exports as products of
“Consumers are unwittingly contributing to the injustice
by buying products that are inaccurately labeled as coming from Israel, when in
fact they are from West Bank settlements,” said William Bell, Policy and
Advocacy Officer at Christian Aid UK and Ireland.
Businesses should be
discouraged from buying settlement goods, the report said.
“As a more
comprehensive option,” the report also called on European governments “to ban
the imports of settlements products.”
The report noted that it did not
support a boycott of Israeli products, simply those produced over the pre-1967
“Europe says settlements are illegal under international law and
yet, continues to trade with them,” said Bell.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry
attacked the report as biased, inaccurate and confusing.
“The whole thing
is totally misleading and based on partial information,” said Ministry spokesman
He added that the NGOs cherry picked information “to serve
a political agenda.”
The report, he said, provides recommendations for
actions that are “self-contradictory and reflect nothing but general anti-Israel
bias,” he said.
If the concern is the origin of products from conflict
zones where there is a controversy, why focus only on Israel, Palmor
“Why not propose a general directive to label any product emanating
from a controversial area of conflict,” he said.
Among the groups named
on the report itself were: Diakonia (Sweden), Trocaire (Ireland), Quaker Council
for European Affairs, Cordaid (Netherlands) and Caabu (UK).