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Trading away Peace: How Europe helps sustain illegal israeli settlements

The European Union’s position is absolutely clear: israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are “illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible”. Yet this report shows how european policy helps sustain the settlements. It reveals that the eu imports approximately fifteen times more from the illegal settlements than from the Palestinians themselves.

The contradictions of Europe’s trade with israeli settlements
The most recent estimate of the value of EU imports from settlements provided by the Israeli government to the World Bank is $300m (€230m) a year; this is approximately fifteen times the annual value of EU imports from palestinians. With more than four million palestinians and over 500,000 Israeli settlers living in the Occupied Territory this means the EU imports over 100 times more per settler than per palestinian.
The most common settlement products sold in europe include agricultural products ,such as dates, citrus fruits and herbs, and manufactured products including cosmetics, carbonation devices, plastics, textile products and toys. Despite its firm position that settlements are not part of Israel, Europe has been accepting imports of these settlements products with origin designated as “Israel”, thus acquiescing to Israel’s extension of its sovereignty over the occupied territory. Many of these products are also sold in european stores under the misleading label “Made in Israel”, denying consumers their right, under existing EU consumer protection legislation, to make informed decisions when they shop.
As a result, many european consumers are unwittingly supporting the settlements and the attendant violations of human rights. Beyond the trade in settlement goods, some european-owned companies have invested in settlements and related infrastructure or are providing services to them. Cases that have been reported include G4S (UK/denmark), Alstom (France), Veolia (France), and Heidelberg Cement (Germany). others, such as deutsche Bahn (Germany), AssaAbloy (Sweden), and Unilever (Netherlands) have already ceased their activities in the West Bank in recent years, setting an example for the companies still doing business in the settlements. Adding to the contradictions at the heart of eU policy towards Israel’s illegal settlements, the eU has failed to fully exclude settlements from the benefits of its cooperation programmes and bilateral agreements with Israel. In several cases, EU public funds for research and development have been used to directly support activities in settlements. The newly ratified EU-Israel Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial products (ACAA), is another example of eU’s failure to
insist on a firm distinction between Israel proper and the illegal settlements..."

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