Thursday

24th Jan 2019

EU 'welcomes' Israeli settler exports

  • Israeli settler exports have little financial value, but high symbolic importance (Photo: [john])

Europe welcomes exports produced by Jewish settlers on occupied Palestinian land, the EU’s envoy to Israel has said, while insisting that the best way to stop boycotts would be to make peace between Israel and Palestine.

Lars Faaberg-Anderson made the remark at an event in Jerusalem on Monday (28 March) where speakers were criticising the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement - a Palestinian-led international campaign to stigmatise Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Settlement expansion seen as obstacle to peace by EU, but the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement unwelcome (Photo: ISM-NC)

The EU recently tightened up rules on grants and trade perks for settler firms as well as on retail labels for settler-made food, wine, and cosmetics.

Faaberg-Anderson said, according to Israeli media: “The settlements are not part of Israel, and for that reason products from the settlements, although they are welcomed in the European market, they are not given the same preferential treatment.”

He added: “The EU is against BDS. Our policy is totally the opposite - one of engagement with Israel, and we have a long track record to prove it.”

He said the BDS movement has had a “marginal” impact on Israel.

“The most effective antidote to BDS is to solve the Palestinian issue. If it were solved, there would be no BDS movement. It would shrink into virtually nothing,” he added.

EU states last week also tried to defeat a project to create a UN list of companies that profit from settlements.

The UNHCR, the UN’s human rights body, went ahead anyway after the project was approved by a large majority of member states, including China, Russia and Switzerland, as well as African, Arab and Latin American countries.

It means the Geneva-based body will “produce a database of all business enterprises involved in the [settlement] activities … to be updated annually”.

All eight EU members who currently sit on the UNHCR - Belgium, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, and the UK - had abstained.

EU-aligned members - Albania, Georgia, and Macedonia - also abstained.

The list passed despite the fact the British and Dutch ambassadors spoke out against the idea at the UNHCR meeting last Thursday. The British envoy said it would be “damaging” to the peace process, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.

However, EU states were less united on a separate UNHCR resolution, which endorsed a preliminary investigation into the 2014 war in Gaza by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Belgium, France, Portugal and Slovenia voted Yes to the text, while the other four EU members abstained.

Mahmoud Nawajaa, a spokesman for the BDS movement, said in a statement that Faaberg-Anderson’s remarks on Monday meant the EU was “complicit in Israel’s serious violations of international law”.

Nawajaa was also angry the EU diplomat had agreed to sit on the same panel as Dani Dayan, a hard-right Israeli politician

But the EU envoy told journalists at the anti-BDS conference: “I’m totally undeterred by allegations against me.”

The event, which was organised by Israeli media Ynet and Yediot Ahronoth, also heard from the US envoy to Israel Daniel Shapiro, who echoed his EU counterpart.

“One of our most effective tools to defeat boycotts and de-legitimisation is the presentation of a political process, negotiations or some political horizon that gives hope for a two-states-for-two-peoples resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Shapiro said.

The BDS movement recently claimed that a decision by British private security firm G4S to sell off assets in Israel was due to its campaign, but the firm denies this.

Dutch and Norwegian pension funds as well as French water-management and telecommunications firms have also divested Israeli assets in recent years.

Israeli settler exports to the EU are worth less than 1 percent of bilateral trade.

The EU institutions have indicated they will not prosecute countries that ignore the retail labels regime, even though it is grounded in binding EU consumer protection laws.

Interview

Palestinians join exodus to EU, says PLO's Erekat

Palestinians are joining the Middle East exodus to Europe in greater numbers because of the Syria war and Israeli occupation, Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official told EUobserver.

Opinion

Breaking the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock

The chaos sweeping the Middle East provides the right conditions for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The EU should throw its weight behind a French initiative to restart the peace process.

Opinion

Time for EU courage on Israeli settlements

Israelis must be faced with the choice between ideological commitment to the settlement enterprise, or relations with the outside world, and in particular their European backyard.

Two EU states break ranks on Jerusalem

Hungary and the Czech Republic have broken EU ranks on US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital despite warnings it could bring back 'darker times'.

News in Brief

  1. Media cut ties to reporter who plagiarised EU stories
  2. Cyprus to host southern EU summit next week
  3. 'Yellow Vest' protesters to run list in EU elections
  4. Barnier: No-deal preparations 'more important than ever'
  5. Commission offers no-deal Brexit help to EU fisheries
  6. OECD: France and Belgium top social spending
  7. Study: Tax evasion cost five time as much as EU budget
  8. Dublin: Bilateral Brexit deal may be needed with UK

Analysis

China's 2019 growth outlook

As China's growth seems to be slowing, some observers see the country amid what the New York Times called a "severe downturn". As they mistake China's secular deceleration with cyclical fluctuations, they miss the rapid increase in Chinese living standards.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. European Space Force should only be for defence, says MEP
  2. The demise of the INF treaty: can the EU save arms control?
  3. Stymied on 'golden passports', EU sets up expert group
  4. Tajani wants second term as EU parliament president
  5. EU commissioner floats idea for European space force
  6. France and Germany hope to revive EU with Aachen treaty
  7. May pushes defeated Brexit deal, offers no Plan B
  8. European Parliament targets 'fake' political groups

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us