EU MUST BAN AND NOT JUST LABEL ILLEGAL ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS’ PRODUCTS ~ OMAR BARGHOUTI,, The Palestine Project, IMEU • 12 November 2015.
The European Union’s announcement is not new legislation, but merely the clarification of regulations that the EU, and various member states such as the UK, had already instituted over the past few years. This can hardly offset Europe’s deep complicity in Israel’s occupation and apartheid regime.
OMAR BARGHOUTI, Independent Palestinian commentator and human rights activist, founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and the Palestinian Civil Society Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, and author of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights (2011):
“This can hardly offset Europe’s deep complicity in Israel’s occupation and apartheid regime. Labeling some — but not all — of the products of Israel’s illegal settlements built on occupied Palestinian land instead of banning them is seen by the majority of Palestinians as yet another European Union failure to uphold European and international law.
“The EU’s move is not at all significant, given the scale of settlement exports to Europe, which constitute about 1% of all Israeli exports to the EU, and the fact that this measure only requires the labeling of some settlement products, but not others. Practically speaking, given that Israel cheats by hiding the origin of products, mixing settlement and non-settlement products, etc., this decision’s impact on Israel’s occupation will be negligible.
“The EU continues its military trade with Israel’s regime of oppression and even provides funding to Israeli military companies that are accused of complicity in Israel’s war crimes.
“The EU’s supposed concern for human rights can only be taken seriously after it imposes a military embargo on Israel, as was done against apartheid South Africa, bans all settlement products, and suspends its Association Agreement with Israel until it respects its human rights clause.”
TAREQ BACONI, Policy Analyst for Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, visiting scholar at Columbia University’s Middle East Institute, and author of the forthcoming book Hamas: Politics of Resistance, Entrenchment in Gaza from Stanford University Press:
“The European Union’s announcement is not new legislation, but merely the clarification of regulations that the EU, and various member states such as the UK, had already instituted over the past few years. This announcement should not be taken as support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, despite Israeli politicians’ attempts to conflate the two. Labeling settlement products is not the same as supporting a boycott of Israel. It is merely underscoring the illegality of settlements. This should not be seen as controversial in the slightest, as they simply align EU practices with stated policies.
“The EU, in accordance with international law, does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over territories occupied following the 1967 War — the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Streamlining its internal trade practices so that they comply with stated policies is in the EU’s best interests, as they close internal loopholes and limit exposure.
“Labeling of settlement products is only a first step, and should be followed by a more comprehensive review of sectors where the EU directly or indirectly engages with Israeli settlements, such as the banking sector where European banks with branches in Israel underpin mortgages for settlers.
“The move is significant symbolically, but falls far short of what needs to happen, and indeed what could happen, in the EU and globally. The impassioned Israeli response we are seeing has less to do with this particular development, and more to do with the recognition that this move could lead to greater and far more impactful ones.
“Claiming that this move hurts Palestinian workers is a distortion of reality — if the Palestinian economy was allowed to thrive on its own merit, rather than being maintained as forcibly dependent on Israel, workers would not be held hostage to Israeli settlements.”