Tuesday

5th Mar 2024

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

Get the EU news that really matters

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

... or subscribe 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.

No EU cost for Israeli 'apartheid' in West Bank

Palestinians face "systematic legal discrimination" by Israel, EU diplomats said in a confidential report seen by EUobserver, but Israel is unlikely to pay a "real cost".

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.

Former diplomats urge EU to draw red line on Israel

The EU ought to tell the US their partnership on Israel is over if Trump endorses Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories, former top diplomats from all over Europe have said.

Opinion

The macabre saga of Navalny's corpse

With Alexei Navalny's funeral in Moscow on Friday, Vladimir Putin's regime haven't just insulted his mother and widow with their treatment of his corpse — they've breached international treaties and conventions.

Latest News

  1. EU must overhaul Africa trade offer to parry China, warns MEP
  2. EU watchdog faults European Commission over Libya
  3. Hungary's Ukrainian refugees in two minds as relations sour
  4. The six-hour U-turn that saw the EU vote for austerity
  5. Defence, von der Leyen, women's rights, in focus This WEEK
  6. The farming lobby vs Europe's wolves
  7. EU socialists fight battle on two fronts in election campaign
  8. EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us