Hit Israel where it hurts - trade
Abu Dhabi, 23 June 2012 (WAM) - The Palestinian campaign for a global boycott of products made in Israeli settlements in the West Bank has picked up momentum, particularly in European Union member states which represent a key market for Israeli exports, said the English language daily 'Gulf Today' in its today's editorial.
The campaign, which is part of "non-violent resistance" against Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories, is supported by many organisations in EU member countries.
"The latest to announce support for the drive was Norway's state pension fund GPFG, one of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds, by excluding an Israeli construction company involved in building settlements "in breach of international humanitarian law in East Jerusalem" after a recommendation from the fund's council of ethics.
In Israel's view, the EU is only seeking to ensure that products made in Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are no longer labelled as "made in Israel' and benefit from preferential treatment under an EU-Israel trade agreement," the paper said.
However, Israel has been using deception to circumvent the EU law.
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), "EU laws prohibit preferential treatment for goods produced in violation of international law in this way, but Europe allows Israel to bundle goods from illegal settlements with goods from inside Israel, and to ship the whole lot to European markets tariff-free." In late April, Britain's fifth-largest food retailer, the Co-Operative Group, announced it was extending a boycott of goods from settlements to any supplier known to source from these areas, ending business with four companies.
In May, South Africa and Denmark announced initiatives to identify products made in Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories.
Migros - Switzerland's second-largest retailer - has announced that from 2013 it will mark such goods as coming from "West Bank" or "East Jerusalem," adding "Israeli settlement area." According to Omar Barghouti, founding member of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, a new law would hold legally accountable "any supermarket in South Africa caught selling Israel's colonies products under the label �product of Israel'." Israel has made it nearly impossible to effectively boycott products made in the settlements.
"There are many technicalities involved, but the boycott is a reflection of the increasing EU awareness of the illegality of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories," the paper said.
"Ideally," it went on, "the boycott should be expanded to products made in Israel itself. But that is a tall order. However, the campaign should be intensified so that the world keeps reminded of the injustice to which the Palestinians are subjected." WAM/MAB