Oslo municipality takes stand against settlement products

A trade agreement signed between Israel and South Korea less than a month before Israel's second 2019 election excluded the areas that came under the state's control in 1967.

Norwegian flags flutter at Karl Johans street in Oslo, Norway May 31, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Norwegian flags flutter at Karl Johans street in Oslo, Norway May 31, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Oslo's newly installed City Council is banning Israeli settlement goods and services from public procurements as part of the newly-adopted platform for 2019-2023, the Palestinian BDS National Committee reported on Monday.
According to the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement's report, the platform was approved by the Norwegian capital's recently-elected City Council led by Social Left, Labor and Green parties.
"Despite concerted efforts by Israel and its right-wing allies in Norway and worldwide to repress accountability measures in support of Palestinian rights," the report said, "Oslo, Norway's capital and largest city, has now become the sixth Norwegian municipality to ban settlement goods and services, along with one county council."
The ban on settlement products, which does not distinguish between Israeli and international corporations that operate in Israel's settlements in the West Bank, is based, in part, on the 2016 UNSC resolution 2334, that "reaffirmed" the illegality of the settlements under international law. The resolution called on Israel to "immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Ease Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard."

A trade agreement signed between Israel and South Korea less than a month before Israel's second parliamentary election in 2019, excluded the areas that came under the state's control after the 1967 Six Day War.

According to the agreement, goods and services produced in West Bank Israeli settlements as well as Israeli cities and towns in the Golan Heights and beyond the Green Line will be subject to extra customs fees. 

Israel has signed similar agreements in the past, notably with EU member states, but the latest agreement signed before the election has brought the subject of settlement boycott to the center of attention, with many fearing the step would legitimize the BDS movement on a greater scale.

The recent ban on Israeli settlement products came with a declaration by the Oslo City Council that it is committed to "investigat[ing] the scope of action in the procurement regulations to not trade goods and services produces on territory occupied in violation of international law by companies operating under the permission of the occupying power," referring to Israel's military control over the West Bank and the administration of the majority of its territory, according to the BDS report.

"The Palestinian people, who have to deal with the illegal occupation of their territory every single day, deserve international attention and support," said Sunniva Eidsvoll, leader of the Oslo chapter of the Socialist Left Party (SV). "It is a shared global responsibility to help ensure that human rights and international law are not violated."

"I am proud that the Oslo City Council is now taking steps to prevent goods and services purchased by the city prom supporting an illegal occupation of Palestine and other territories," she said, adding that "the Socialist Left Party of Norway has been a longtime supporter of the BDS movement."

With the growth of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement in Europe, while not boycotting the State of Israel completely – as the movement has called to do, referring to the success of the boycott movement that brought down the Apartheid regime in South Africa – European states have been looking into banning products manufactured in Israeli settlements beyond the Green Line.

The Irish government, according to the BDS report, is currently reviewing the Occupied Territories Bill that was approved by both houses of its Parliament. The bill would ban the Republic of Ireland from importing goods produced in Israeli settlements.
The signed report is linked into the BDS movement article. The Jerusalem Post will follow up directly with Oslo officials; this is a developing story.