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Palestinian BDS National Committee welcomes landmark EU court ruling

Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) welcomes landmark EU court ruling

Palestine 15 March 2010: The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign National Committee (BNC) welcomes the long overdue ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union that Israeli products originating from Israel’s colonial settlements built on Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) do not qualify for preferential customs treatment
under the EC-Israel trade agreement [1]. According to the Fourth
Geneva Convention, all Israeli colonies are illegal and constitute war
crimes. The BNC calls on all 27 member states of the European Union to
implement the court’s findings in full and without delay, as a first
step towards a full ban on Israeli colonies’ products. We also urge
the citizens and civil society groups of European Union member states
to pressure their respective governments and the EU leadership to
abide by this landmark decision and enforce its implementation.

In response to an appeal lodged by German drinks firm Brita, who were
asked to pay full EU import duties when importing supplies
manufactured in the OPT by the Israeli company Soda-Club Ltd, Europe’s
highest court ruled that Israeli products originating in the West Bank
do not fall within the territorial scope of the EC-Israel Agreement
and therefore do not qualify for preferential treatment under that
agreement. The court also ruled that Israeli companies operating in
the OPT are “third parties” and cannot benefit from the terms of a
separate EC-PLO trade agreement.

Worth €12 billion to the Israeli economy, the European Union is
Israel’s second largest export market after the United States; an
estimated one-third of these exports are fully or partially
manufactured in Israel’s colonies [2]. On top of this, a large number
of Israeli companies are providing products and services to the
settlements, profiting from them, or rendering them sustainable in
other ways. Illegal settlements in the OPT are an integral and
significant part of the Israeli economy.

Allowing Israeli goods illegally produced on Palestinian territory to
be imported under the terms of an EC-Israel trade agreement
effectively constitutes a giant subsidy for Israel’s brutal and
ever-expanding military occupation and colonization of the West Bank,
including East Jerusalem. As with all forms of colonialism, the
Israeli occupation is motivated by a combination of political ideology
and economic self-interest. This subsidy greatly increases the
economic incentive for occupation and is funding the systematic denial
of the rights of Palestinians.

Additionally, the BNC would like to highlight the obstructiveness of
Israeli export authorities. The court ruling observed that ”despite a
specific request…they [the firms involved and the Israeli export
authorities] did not reply to the question whether the products had
been manufactured in Israeli-occupied settlements in Palestinian
territory”. We call upon member states to hold Israel to what the
court described as its obligation to “provide sufficient information
to enable the real origin of products to be determined”. EU member
states should be wary of the likelihood that Israel may react to this
ruling by adopting further measures designed to conceal the true
origin of many Israeli exports.

In principle, the European Union refuses to recognize Israeli colonies
in the Occupied Palestinian Territory as part of the State of Israel.
While welcoming this stance, the BNC wishes to remind EU member states
that their official position in this regard is undermined by welcoming
Israeli products manufactured on Occupied Palestinian Territory into
their vast markets. We hope that this new Court of Justice ruling will
give member states the confidence and legal basis, assuming they have
the will, to impose full import duties on Israeli settlement goods as
a precursor to an eventual ban on such illegally produced imports. In
fact, upholding international law as well as its own laws would
obligate the EU to end its entire Association Agreement with Israel.
The EU’s lucrative trade with Israel despite its ongoing occupation,
colonization and apartheid against the Palestinian people not only
violates the human rights clauses in the EC-Israel Association
Agreement; it makes a mockery of international law and human rights
treaties and indicates complicity in maintaining Israel’s system of

As we await confirmation from the 27 member states of the European
Union that they intend to implement the ruling of the EU Court of
Justice, the BNC reiterates its call for the suspension of the Trade
Association Agreement with Israel and for all forms of civil
society-led boycotts and divestment initiatives against Israel until
it ends it fully abides by its obligations under international law and
respects the rights of the Palestinian people.

 source: Palestinian BNC