Aerial view of Ariel settlement in West Bank 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The Socialists & Democrats Group (S&D Group) in the European Parliament objected earlier this week to an upgrade to Israel's trade agreement with the European Union, claiming it could give preferential trade status to products from settlements.
The S&D Group, the second largest political bloc in the EU, proposed delaying a decision on the agreement for two years, saying it hoped Israel would change its policy towards Gaza, the settlements and the peace process. Upgrading the agreement, a statement explained, would be inconsistent with EU foreign policy that condemns settlements in the West Bank.
"The continuation of settlements in the occupied territory and the isolation of east Jerusalem cannot continue. We want an end to breaches of fundamental rights of the Palestinians, namely the right to their land, freedom of movement, freedom to work, and, of course, their right to self-determination," S&D Euro MP Vital Moreira said.
"Therefore, de facto upgrading relations with Israel at this time is not appropriate," he added.
The group said it intends to request that the European Commission clearly state that Israeli products produced in Palestinian territories cannot be "lawfully traded" and therefore cannot be a part of the agreement.
Earlier this month, a Greek Foreign Ministry official was quoted
as saying that the EU is considering instituting a ban on imports of products made in Israeli settlements, or implementing special labels for goods made in communities beyond the Green Line, as South Africa had done