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(Wissam Nassar / Maan Images)

Israeli settlement products are illegal, says European Parliament’s second biggest group

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Pisgat Zeev, an illegal Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem.

(Gila Brand / Wikipedia)

The Socialists and Democrats (S&D) grouping in the European Parliament, the parliament’s second largest group, have declared that goods manufactured in illegal settlements “do not comply with EU law.”

Quoted in an official press release after a new EU-Israel trade protocol was narrowly approved by the European Parliament’s international trade committee, S&D vice president Véronique de Keyser said that “products produced in the occupied territory cannot be considered ‘lawfully traded’ and therefore cannot be part of this trade agreement.” The S&D’s constituent parties include the UK’s Labor Party, France’s Socialist Party and German’s Social Democractic Party.

Settlement products are currently freely sold in Europe, but the Danish and UK governments insist that they must be labelled differently from other Israeli produce and some European governments are believed to be considering introducing a trade ban on the goods. 

Two recent publications by Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq have argued that states are legally obliged to end the trade in settlement goods. 

Attempts to block new EU-Israel trade protocol narrowly defeated

The S&D statement was released after a proposal to postpone the implementation of a new EU-Israel trade protocol was defeated by just two votes in the European Parliament’s international trade committee. The Protocol on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA) will facilitate trade in industrial and pharmaceutical goods and will now be voted on in a plenary session at the parliament. 

Palestinian, European and Israeli organizations oppose the protocol as an upgrade in EU-Israel relations that rewards Israel for its continued impunity and recognises Israeli control of illegal settlements. The Coalition of Women for Peace have also raised concerns about Israel’s pharmaceutical industry. Thousands of signatures have been collected on petitions opposing the implementation of the protocol. 

In a statement the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) condemned the decision: 

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) is disappointed MEPs passed a major trade agreement between the EU and Israel yesterday, in a move that clearly undermines the EU’s declared position on the settlements and International Law

On Tuesday, MEPs sitting on the Committee on International Trade (INTA) voted in favour of the “Protocol on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products” between the European Union and Israel, commonly referred to as “ACAA”.

MEPs may claim that it is not an upgrade of relations between the EU and Israel, but this enhanced cooperation and the prospective conclusion of this protocol does in fact reflect a significant stepping-up of trade relations. Specifically, ACAA effectively brings Israel into the European single market.

The EMHRN finds this decision by the MEPs particularly deplorable in that ACAA provides for the recognition of an Israeli authority responsible for the occupied Palestinian territory, in direct violations of the EU’s obligations under International Law.