The UK must follow France’s actions on settlement goods

December 2, 2016 /

Despite Israel’s settlements being considered illegal by the international community including, the UN Security Council, The UN General Assembly, the EU, The Red Cross, the International Court of Justice, they continue expanding. An astonishing US$17 billion*[1] has been invested in the expansion of settlements.  With currently an estimated 700,000 Israelis living in settlements[2], each one of which has been built on Palestinian land, the prospect of peace is being withered away. Israel’s flagrant disregard of the international community is an affront to international law and means to obfuscate any potential negotiations.

This week however, France has made a positive step towards showing Israel that it should not think flouting international laws can persist without recompense. France has officially begun labelling items from Israeli settlements and a French Government website states that “Under international law the Golan Heights and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are not part of Israel”.[3] Israeli settlements are not only illegal, but are also immoral and active participants in the persecution of Palestinians through the destruction of their homes, livelihoods and towns. However, despite last year’s EU declaration[4] that all products from settlements must be labelled, France is the first European country to take any decisive action on this.

The British government, despite its verbal condemnation of settlements:

“Israel’s policy of continuing to expand settlements is illegal under international law and systematically undermines the prospects for a two-state solution.” [5] (Tobias Ellwood, Foreign Office Minister)

has not followed it with any action.  If the British government is impartial and serious about peace in the Holy Land, then it is time it followed the example of France. Further, demanding Israel label goods appropriately is right, Britain must champion to uphold international norms and law. Britain must follow through on its verbal condemnation of Israeli illegal settlements with action, if it is not to be considered as a partner in the criminal activity of appropriating Palestinian territory.

[1] http://www.haaretz.com/settlements-have-cost-israel-17-billion-study-finds-1.265190
*Circa 2010
[2] http://www.prc.org.uk/portal/images/PDF_files/WS-Item-7—Settlements.pdf
[3] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/france-becomes-first-european-country-to-label-items-from-israeli-settlements-a7444031.html
[4]http://eeas.europa.eu/archives/delegations/israel/documents/news/20151111_indication_of_origin_fact_sheet_final_en.pdf
[5] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/minister-for-the-middle-east-concerned-by-settlement-plan-in-east-jerusalem

2nd December 2016