Sunday, September 06, 2015

Labeling Israeli Settlement Products Not Good Enough

Labeling Israeli Settlement Products Not Good Enough

by Stephen Lendman

Last spring, 16 European foreign ministers urged EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to require labeling of all Israeli settlement products - so consumers can buy or avoid them at their discretion.

Labeling is “an important step in the full implementation of EU longstanding policy,” they said. At best, it’s symbolic. At worst, a weak-kneed gesture with no meaningful effect on Israel’s economy.

By year-end or sooner, the EU is expected to decide up or down on labeling. Mogherini said “(t)he work is close to being finished but it is still ongoing.” If implemented, it’ll only be a guideline, not mandated policy. Individual EU states can do what they please - showing what’s being considered is a sham, an insult to long-suffering Palestinians.

Some EU nations already intend to require labeling - regardless of what the European Commission decides. “We have to make sure that consumers can distinguish products that come from the territories occupied by Israel,” Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said.

Over 600,000 Israelis live on stolen Palestinian land - in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Numbers keep increasing exponentially - Palestinians forcibly displaced from their land for exclusive Jewish development.

Palestinian human rights groups justifiably demand a total boycott of all Israeli settlement products. In 2013, Al Haq prepared a report titled “Feasting on the Occupation: Illegality of Settlement Produce and the Responsibility of EU Member States under International Law.”

Given that trading in settlement goods amounts to a form of recognition and supports the sustainability of entities that violate peremptory norms of international law, a ban on settlement products…is to be considered amongst those actions that Third Party States should undertake to comply with their customary international law obligations,” it states.

Al Haq director Shawan Jabarin said products from settlements “help to sustain their very existence.”

“As things stand, the EU is doing little more than ticking a box by acknowledging that settlements are illegal. Until they support this rhetoric with action and ensure that no assistance or recognition are provided to settlements, even indirectly, any such criticism will continue to be meaningless.”

The EU is Israel’s largest trading partner. Settlement products represent a minuscule percent of Israeli exports. At the same time, they’re important “for the economic viability of many settlements,” the report said.

Economist Shir Hever said “(t)he significance of ending the import of colony products is much larger than the direct financial effect.”

“It (would be) a strong statement reminding Israel of the illegality of the colonization of the West Bank, and a blow to many Israeli and international companies who have turned the occupation into a source of profit.”

It would be a shot across the bow against all Israeli enterprises - a hopeful first step toward greater boycott and divestment from an apartheid state, aiming for total isolation.

Currently, nothing indicates business as usual changing. The 2000 EU/Israel Association Agreement governs relations between the Parties, including strengthening economic cooperation and trade.

Human rights groups blasted the enhanced partnership - showing EU officials say one thing and do another, effectively supporting Israeli high crimes.

After decades of mass slaughter and destruction, ethnic cleansing, illegal occupation and oppression, as well as international complicity with Israeli ruthlessness, mandated boycott, divestment and sanctions more than ever are essential - continued until Israel:

  • recognizes Palestinian self-determination unconditionally;

  • strictly observes international laws, norms and standards;

  • ends its illegal occupation and Gaza blockade unconditionally;

  • ends illegal aggression and all other hostile acts;

  • dismantles its Separation Wall;

  • frees all Palestinian political prisoners unconditionally;

  • grants Israeli Arabs equal rights as Jews;

  • ends apartheid racism;

  • complies with UN resolution 194, affirming the right of diaspora Palestinians to return to their homes and property or be fully compensated for loss or damage if they prefer;

  • recognizes East Jerusalem as Palestine's exclusive capital within June 1967 borders; and

  • gives Palestinians control over their land, borders, air space, coastal waters and resources.

Ending Israeli high crimes against defenseless Palestinians is long overdue. Nothing less than its full observance of international law is tolerable.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

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