By Alisonp on May 24, 2012
Two recent developments have kept the issue of European Union trade with Israeli settlements on the political agenda. On February 17 2012, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution urging action to stop settlement exporters breaking EU trade rules. Goods from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) should not benefit from the EU–Israel trade agreement which allows many Israeli goods to be imported into the EU at reduced tariff rates. However, some exporters circumvent the agreement by claiming that settlement goods are the product of Israel. The resolution calls for the European Commission to address the problem by drawing up a blacklist of companies that undermine the rules in this way and obliging Israel to clearly distinguish between settlement and Israeli goods.
The resolution was adopted three months after an internal EU report recommended the consideration of EU laws to prevent financial transactions that support settlements. The report, written by the EU Heads of Mission (HoM) in Jerusalem, outlined how the systemic increase in settlement growth is undermining a two state solution. It made other recommendations including compiling guidelines for tour operators in an attempt to prevent them supporting settlement businesses in occupied East Jerusalem, and informing EU citizens about the risks of buying property in occupied East Jerusalem.
Neither the EP nor HoM recommendations will automatically be adopted by the Commission. However, they have helped to strengthen calls for the EU and its member states to move beyond political rhetoric and take practical non-violent action designed to halt the growth in settlements. Ending trade with settlements is an obvious next step to take. QPSW continues to work alongside the Quaker Council for European Affairs and others to persuade our decision makers to take that step.
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