EU, Israel, latest, Palestine
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EU imports 15 times more from illegal Israeli settlements than from Palestinians

by Defend Democracy Press, Dec. 31, 2016
“The gap between Europe’s rhetoric on illegal settlement growth and our actions is widening. We have reached a nonsensical situation where we are economically and financially sustaining the very obstacles to peace we so often condemn. This new report brings together powerful and pragmatic suggestions for a change in policy to truly advance peace,” said Chris Doyle, Director of Caabu.

A broad coalition calls on Europe to move decisively beyond rhetoric on settlements.

The European Union imports fifteen times more from Israel’s illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory than from Palestinians themselves, a new report [1] from a coalition of 22 non-governmental organisations including Caabu, Christian Aid UK and Ireland, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Diakonia revealed today.

The report, entitled “Trading Away Peace: How Europe helps sustain illegal Israeli settlements”, is the first to compare available export data from Israeli settlements and Palestinians, highlighting the inconsistency at the heart of EU policy. The EU states, “settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace, and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible” [2], but continues to provide a primary export market for settlement products. Most EU Member States have failed to ensure products are correctly labelled in stores, leaving consumers unaware of the products’ true origin, contrary to the EU’s own directives. [3]

“Europe says settlements are illegal under international law and yet continues to trade with them. Consumers are unwittingly contributing to the injustice by buying products that are inaccurately labelled as coming from Israel when in fact they are from settlements in the West Bank,” said William Bell, Policy and Advocacy Officer at Christian Aid UK and Ireland.  

The report, which has a foreword by the former EU Commissioner for External Relations, Hans van den Broek, calls on European governments to adopt a range of concrete measures to stop assisting settlement expansion and close the gap between words and practice. At a minimum, the coalition is calling for clear labelling guidelines to ensure European consumers do not unknowingly buysettlement goods. [4] Such guidelines already exist in the UK and Denmark. [5]

Trade with settlements has been on the EU agenda since May, when EU Foreign Ministers strongly criticised “the marked acceleration of settlement construction” and for the first time called for full application of existing EU legislation regarding products from settlements. [6]

The Israeli government estimates the value of EU imports from settlements at around €230m a year [7]; compared to €15m a year from Palestinians. [8] The discrepancy is partly driven by Israel’s policy of providing large subsidies to settlers [9], including for infrastructure, business development, and agriculture while imposing stringent restrictions on the Palestinian access to markets and resources.

Settlers enjoy easy access to international markets, and have established modern agribusinesses and industrial zones. In contrast, the Palestinian economy is “severely constrained by a multi-layered system of restrictions” [10] imposed by Israel, including roadblocks, checkpoints and limited access to land, water, and fertilisers. As a result, Palestinian exports have fallen from over half of GDP in the 1980s to less than 15% of GDP in recent years [11], effectively invalidating the EU’s preferential trade agreement with the Palestinians.

“The EU spends hundreds of millions of euros in aid each year to support Palestinian state building but then undermines this assistance by trading with illegal settlements, thus contributing to their viability and expansion,” said Dr Phyllis Starkey, former British MP and Trustee of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

Among the settlement goods that are on sale in Europe are dates, grapes, citrus fruits, herbs, wines, cosmetics from Ahava, some of the carbonation devices from SodaStream and some of the plastic garden furniture produced by Keter.

Goods from West Bank settlements are produced on the back of house demolitions, land confiscations, and military occupation. Governments need to finally move beyond rhetorical condemnations of settlements and at the very minimum ensure consumers can make informed decisions about these products in shops. This is nothing but abiding by European and international law,” said Souhayr Belhassen, President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

Signatory organisations:APRODEV, Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Caabu (UK), CCFD – Terre Solidaire (France), Christian Aid (UK and Ireland), Church of Sweden, Cordaid (Netherlands), DanChurchAid (Denmark), Diakonia (Sweden), International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), FinnChurchAid (Finland), ICCO (Netherlands), IKV Pax Christi (Netherlands), Medical Aid for Palestinians (UK), medico international (Germany), medico international switzerland, The Methodist Church in Britain, Norwegian People’s Aid, Norweigan Church Aid, Quaker Council for European Affairs, Quaker Peace and Social Witness (UK), Trocaire (Ireland)

EDITORS’ NOTES:

[1] With more than 4 million Palestinians and over 500,000 Israeli settlers living in the Occupied Territory this means the EU imports over 100 times more per settler than per Palestinian. Source of figures: see below.

[2] E.g. here: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/…

[3] http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2005:149:0022…http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2010-26…

[4] Further, more comprehensive measures recommended in the report include:

— excluding settlements from benefits of bilateral agreements and cooperation programmes
— actively discouraging corporate involvement in settlements
— preventing financial transactions to settlements
— banning imports of settlement products

[5] The guidelines should be extended to also cover non-food products. UK guidelines issued in December 2009: http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/food/pdf/labelling-palestine.pdf . Danish guidelines just issued on 5 October 2012: http://www.foedevarestyrelsen.dk/Foedevarer/Maerkning/Oprindelsesmaerkni…

[6] http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/…, p. 12.

[7] Figure provided by the Israeli Foreign Ministry to the World Bank in 2012, represents approximately 2% of total Israeli exports to the EU. See: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTWESTBANKGAZA/Resources/AHLCReportF…, p. 13.

[8] Five-year average for 2007-2011. http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2006/september/tradoc_113382.pdf.  With more than 4 million Palestinians and over 500,000 Israeli settlers living in the Occupied Territory this means the EU imports over 100 times more per settler than per Palestinian.

[9] According to a recent estimate, the government spends €330m a year on settlements above the level of benefits provided to citizens inside Israel.  http://settlementwatcheastjerusalem.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/peacenowsavingsplan.pdf

[10] http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTWESTBANKGAZA/Resources/AHLCReportF…, p.11.

[11] http://www.imf.org/external/country/wbg/RR/2010/041310.pdf, p. 4.

 

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12 Comments

  1. The destruction of Palestine and subsequent genocide of it’s people and history is the issue. Until those that make capital from the political entity known as Zionism are held to account, those of Semitic heritage will know no peace.

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  2. Looks like Europeans are as ignorant, stupid and as guilty of war crimes as Americans, who can’t see the truth because they’ve usually got their head stuck in a dank, nasty place that doesn’t allow the Sun to shine.

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    • Good question, since that was the plan.

      “International human rights observers report regular attacks on fishing vessels in Gazan territorial waters. Accompanying Palestinian fishers, they report having “witnessed countless acts of Israeli military aggression against them whilst in Gazan territorial waters, despite a six-month cease-fire agreement holding at the time,” and now again after the January cease-fire. “Gaza’s 40,000 fishermen have been deprived of their livelihood” by Irael naval attacks, Gideon Levy reported from the bedside of a nineteen-year-old Gaza fisherma, severely wounded by Israeli gunboats who attacked his boat without warning near the Gaza shore on October 5, a month before the cease-fire was broken by Israel’s invasion of Gaza, events to which we return. “Every few days the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) publishes reports from its volunteers in Gaza about attacks on fishermen. Sometimes the naval boats ram the wretched craft, sometimes the sailor use high-pressure water hoses on the fishermen, hurtling them into the sea, and sometimes they open lethal fire on them,” Levy reported.

      “The international observers report that attacks on fishing boats began after the discovery of quite promising natural gas fields by the BG Group in 2000, in Gaza’s territorial waters. The regular attacks gradually drove fishing boats toward shore, not by official order but by threat and violence. Oil industry journals and the Israeli business press report that Israel’s state-owned Israel Electric Corp. is negotiating “for as much as 1.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas from the Maritime field located off the Mediterranean coast of the Palestinian controlled Gaza Strip.” It is hard to suppress the thought that the Gaza [2008-2009] invasion may be related to the project of stealing these valuable resources from Palestine, which cannot take part in the negotiations.” – pgs 108 & 109 of “Gaza In Crisis – Reflections On Israel’s War Against The Palestinians,” by Noam Chomsy and Ilan Pappé.

      See Noam Chomsky’s article titled “Exterminate All The Brutes” (https://chomsky.info/20090119/)

      Liked by 1 person

      • There was an equally, if not more, sinister effect of the indiscriminate attacks on Palestinian fisherman – to force them inshore into waters heavily polluted by raw human waste (due to the regular attacks on the treatment plant.) The effect of this (and other planned measures) was to strip the Palestinians of what little self-reliance they could maintain – and force them to be wholly reliant on food aid. Aid was was calculated by calorie – on or around subsistence levels – “ to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”
        This was official policy and further evidence of the ‘Dariya Doctrine’ which (as defined by Jonathan Cook) is “the wholesale destruction of a community’s infrastructure to immerse it so deeply in the problems of survival and reconstruction that other concerns, including fighting back or resisting occupation, are no longer practicable.”
        http://www.jonathan-cook.net/2012-10-24/israels-formula-for-a-starvation-diet/#sthash.brsZTIBv.dpuf

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  3. Invitation: to the Ambassadors of 70 of the worlds leading nations – an all expenses paid weekend trip to Paris. There will be a get-together on the Sunday for an informal chat, no need for anything too heavy, nothing to commit to and no need to dampen the party atmosphere. Plenty of time for sightseeing, shopping and the Parisienne nightlife. Bring a friend.

    That was the Paris Peace Conference – a very expensive weekend junket interrupted, well, by not very much. Netanyahu called it “useless” – he’s been ’embracing’ the two-state solution for years – as detailed above. Trump’s predetermined and cynical response was to propose the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Might as well send the bulldozers to the Al Aqsa mosque while you are at it, you insensitive…….
    If they did say one thing of note this weekend that I can empathize with; it was “Donald, please don’t.”
    Please don’t.

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  4. “Most EU Member States have failed to ensure products are correctly labelled in stores, leaving consumers unaware of the products’ true origin, contrary to the EU’s own directives.” This is very telling. This report is very important.

    Liked by 1 person

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