Wednesday

28th Sep 2022

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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'.

Column

EU should admonish less, and listen more, to the Global South

Whether on Russia, or gas, or climate change, or food security, the EU's constant finger-wagging and moralising is becoming unbearably repetitive and self-defeating. Most countries in the Global South view it as eurocentric and neo-colonial.

News in Brief

  1. EU okays €21bn Covid-recovery funding for Italy amid concern
  2. Greece pitches new EU fund to tackle energy prices
  3. Hungary says sanctions 'harming Europe more than Russia'
  4. France aims to start building new nuclear reactors by 2027
  5. Polish PM thinks it's 'clear' Nord Stream leaks are act of sabotage
  6. Former Jobbik MEP sentenced to prison for Russia spying
  7. There is a 'really big hole' in the Nord Stream pipeline
  8. Danish PM suspects Nord Stream leaks may be sabotage

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  5. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling

Latest News

  1. Underwater explosions were detected near Nord Stream leaks
  2. EU countries stall new pesticide rules, blame Ukraine war
  3. The UN's Uyghur report must push EU into China sanctions
  4. Russian diamonds ban 'would cost 10,000 jobs', Antwerp claims
  5. EU should admonish less, and listen more, to the Global South
  6. Foul play suspicions in Nord Stream leaks
  7. 'Collective guilt' — the dilemma of penalising Russia's opposition
  8. Europe's far-right celebrates Meloni victory

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us