Saturday

23rd Nov 2019

EU rejects public call to ban Israeli settler products

The European Commission has rejected public pressure to ban Israeli settlement imports, while at the same time hosting a donor conference for a cash-strapped Palestinian Authority.

The commission on Tuesday (30 April) said it has no legal power to prohibit settlement products, following a demand by an European citizenship initiative (ECI).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

"We do not have the legal power to make such a proposal and as such we are not able to accept the ECI," a European commission spokeswoman told reporters in Brussels.

ECI is a form of transnational participatory democracy, requiring some one million EU citizens' signatures from at least seven member states, to propose legislation to the European commission.

The petition demanded a formal recognition to prohibit trade with Israeli settlements for the EU as a whole and all member states.

Earlier this year, Ireland passed a bill to ban the sale of goods from Israel's illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. The ECI had demanded a similar law applied throughout the EU.

However, the commission says it is unable to comply because any such demand first requires a European Council decision under the EU's common foreign and security policy.

The EU has an association agreement with Israel, whose beneficial terms exclude the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

But goods made in the illegal settlements end up profiting from the EU-Israel deal anyway. In some cases, dates are misleadingly labelled to hide their West Bank settlement origin.

Archipelago of Palestinian 'islands'

Those settlements continue to expand despite international condemnation from the United Nations and the European Union, turning the West Bank into an archipelago of Palestinian "islands".

Around three million Palestinians live the West Bank, of which around 30 to 35 percent are UN-registered refugees.

Israel seized control in 1967, redrew the municipal boundary of Jerusalem, extended it into the West Bank, and then annexed that territory into the state of Israel.

The West Bank already has some 150 settlements and a 100 settlement outposts, including 60 fully-staffed checkpoints, plus hundreds of unstaffed obstacles like road gates and concrete blocks, trenches, fences, and dirt mounds.

Palestinians travelling inside the West Bank require extensive paper work and often suffer humiliating security screenings at checkpoints.

Recently, the Israeli government advanced at least 2,100 housing units in Area C alone, which spans some 60 percent of the West Bank.

Mogherini

"The very possibility of a two state is being dismantled," Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign policy chief, warned on Tuesday.

She highlighted illegal Israeli settlement expansions as among the reasons behind the dismantlement of a two state solution.

Her comments came ahead of an annual spring meeting of the international donor group for Palestine, also known as the AHLC committee.

Set up in 1993, the committee was created by the Oslo agreement to help pave the way for co-existence of a Palestinian and Israeli state.

Speaking alongside Norway's minister of foreign affairs, Mogherini announced over €22m of additional humanitarian assistance for Gaza and the West Bank.

"A two state solution cannot be substituted by an endless technical and financial assistance and capacity building. It will simply not work," she said.

The Palestinian Authority money woes are linked to Israel's decision to withhold six percent of revenue it collects on its behalf.

The Palestinian leadership, meanwhile, has refused to accept any funds or clearance transfers from the Israelis until the full amount is re-instated.

Trump's Israel plan to 'test' EU resolve

EU countries ought to draw "red lines" for US president Donald Trump on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Herman Van Rompuy, the former head of the EU Council, has said.

Opinion

Israeli labelling ruling lets consumers make choice

Beyond the Israel-specific dimension of this decision, the EU court places ethics back at the heart of European consumer choices and reminds us that our daily, mundane purchases may have considerable and unforeseen geopolitical implications, particularly as regards occupied territories.

News in Brief

  1. UK misses UN deadline to return Chagos Islands
  2. PM: Greece will 'shut door' to migrants without rights
  3. CDU leader offers to quit if party doesn't back her
  4. Serbian president confirms Russia spy video
  5. UK to repatriate 'Islamic State' orphans
  6. Man arrested over Maltese journalist murder free on bail
  7. Children with disabilities in Bulgaria isolated, report says
  8. WHO: 80 percent of adolescents don't exercise enough

Magazine

EU diplomacy 2.0

MEPs on the foreign affairs committee ought to be like second-tier EU diplomats on the Western Balkans and Russia, according to its German chairman, but foreign policy splits could bedevil its work.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us