Ban all Israeli settlement goods, Amnesty demands

A Palestinian boy in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Khair, in the South Hebron Hills, looks towards Carmel, one of Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank, all of which are illegal under international law, Febuary 2016.

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Human rights organizations are finally catching up with the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign to make Israel pay a price for its crimes against humanity.

On Wednesday, Amnesty International said that all states “must ban Israeli settlement products to help end half a century of violations against Palestinians.”

“The international community must ban the import of all goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements and put an end to the multimillion dollar profits that have fueled mass human rights violations against Palestinians,” Amnesty stated.

The group announced it was launching a campaign to mark this week’s 50th anniversary of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, to urge governments to take this long overdue step.

Lawns and swimming pools

“For decades, the world has stood by as Israel has destroyed Palestinians’ homes and plundered their land and natural resources for profit,” Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said. “While the Palestinian economy has been stunted by 50 years of abusive policies, a thriving multimillion dollar settlement enterprise has been built out of the systematic oppression of the Palestinian population.”

Shetty described a “discriminatory and criminal settlement policy that enables Israeli settlers to live on stolen land in homes with irrigated lawns and swimming pools, while Palestinian communities on their doorstep are deprived of access to enough clean water or electricity to cover their basic needs.”

“Israel has made it abundantly clear that maintaining and expanding settlements takes priority over respect for international law,” Shetty added. “It’s time for the world to send a clear message that it will no longer tolerate the Israeli authorities’ blatant disregard for international law.”

Amnesty’s statement comes more than a year after Human Rights Watch called on businesses to end all activities in or with Israeli settlements.

Human Rights Watch also urged governments to withhold aid to Israel.

Amnesty’s position arguably goes further, by urging governments to ban the importation of settlement goods outright.

This is in line with a growing consensus among international law experts and jurists that trade with Israeli settlements violates international law.

But campaigners face strong opposition from governments that continue to support trade with settlements.

European complicity

The 28-member European Union, Israel’s largest trading partner, has imposed minimal requirements that goods from settlements be accurately labeled.

But the EU’s top envoy in Tel Aviv last year declared that settlement products were still “welcome” in European markets.

Emboldened by such complicity, Israel continues to aggressively expand its colonies on stolen Palestinian land, all of which are illegal under international law.

“It is utterly shocking that, since the occupation began 50 years ago, there has been virtually total impunity for the decades of war crimes, crimes against humanity and human rights violations committed in the occupied Palestinian territories,” Amnesty’s Shetty said.

The group’s endorsement of a total ban on settlement goods is a welcome, if belated, step in bringing Israel and the governments complicit with such crimes to account.

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We should not forget that FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights) along many other NGOs has long ago advocated for the ban on settlement products.
The recommendation for a ban of settlement products was among the recommendations in a report published by many organizations in 2012:

Trading away with peace
Aprodev, Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Caabu (UK), CCFD - Terre Solidaire (France), Christian Aid (UK and Ireland), Church of Sweden, Cordaid (Netherlands), DanChurchAid (Denmark), Diakonia (Sweden), FinnChurchAid (Finland), ICCO (Netherlands), IKV Pax Christi (Netherlands), International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Medical Aid for Palestinians (UK), medico international (Germany), medico international switzerland, The Methodist Church in Britain, Norwegian People’s Aid, Norwegian Church Aid, Quaker Council for European Affairs, Quaker Peace and Social Witness (UK), Trocaire (Ireland), October 2012
https://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/t...

It seems that FIDH has said so also in a resolution of its Congress last year

https://www.fidh.org/en/region...

https://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/f...
The resolution, which was presented by Al Haq, a leading Palestinian human rights organization which participates in FIDH, mentions:

"Given Israel's track record of violations of international law and continued non-cooperation with
United Nations (UN) mechanisms, the time has come for a call for sanctions against Israel at the
UN Security Council - including a ban on Israeli goods manufactured and produced in occupied
territory, divestments from Israel, the suspension of the EU/Israel association agreement and a
halt on all military trade and cooperation with Israel."

See also

http://www.11.be/component/doc...

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Which governments take AI seriously? None.
So, while it is nice of Amnesty International to take this line, what effect will it have?? None.

As for "...the time has come for a call for sanctions against Israel at the UN Security Council ..." that is just laughable because the US, through its extreme racist representative Haley, will NOT allow that to happen.

But, in all fairness, it is good to see AI finally getting on board of this just cause.

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Only to the same extent it takes BDS seriously: an effect on its image. But on the ground nothing changes for the Palestinians.

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A factory, not in occupied territory, employs settlers living in occupied territory who 'commute' to the factory. Are 'settlement' goods produced? It isn't entirely about the 'there' of the factory. It is more about the 'there' of the components of production.
All goods/services originating under the Israeli State should be boycotted unless it is established there is 'no settlement' connection either in location of raw materials, employment, or finished products. Can't be too careful.

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The word "settlement" weakens all statements. So-called
"settlements" are not so in fact but annexations by Israelis
(and imported Zionists) of places where they are considered
"citizens" while living in apartheid areas stolen from
Palestinians. The "settlements" are militant extremists
and under the protection of the abominable Israeli
Government.

Instead, one should separate Zionism from "Judaism"
and embargo the entire colonial conquest from its
beginning bays based on racial separatism and
the assumed superiority of Europeans to all others.

(See Thomas Suarez: THE TERROR STATE.)

----Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.