Sunday, November 29, 2020

EU sanctions against Israeli settlements “not on the table” while sanctions against Russia extend another year

By Naomi Kundera - June 19, 2018
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Settlement Expansion] [settlements] [European Union] [Occupation]

The European Union (EU) decided on June 18 to extend existing sanctions against Russian-annexed Crimea and its port city Sevastopol, while failing to impose strict sanctions against Israel.

The sanctions began in 2014, led by the US, as a retaliation to Russia’s illegal annexation of the peninsula.
EU persons and businesses are prohibited from importing, investing, or partaking in tourism in Crimea and Crimean-based businesses. The export of certain goods and technologies in Crimea used from transport, telecommunication and energy sectors and sectors related to the exploration and production of oil, gas, and mineral resources are also prohibited.
Economic sanctions are commonly used by world powers as a way of holding nations accountable to international humanitarian law.
The 28-member bloc of the EU has explicitly stated its support of Ukrainian “territorial integrity and sovereignty” as a basis for these renewed sanctions.
And yet, in the face of continued Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians under siege in Gaza, the EU has not placed any sanctions on Israel in the name of international humanitarian law.
The UN Security Council has issued statements declaring that “Israel’s establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, [have] no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law.”
When asked about this apparent dichotomy in policy, Shadi Othman, the Press Officer at the Office of the European Union Representative in Jerusalem, told Palestine Monitor; “We have done a serious number of actions in the past… but we haven’t agreed on the point of sanctions, of imposing sanctions on Israel – I don’t think that it is on the table.”
Of the actions the EU has taken in the past, Othman pointed out “Israeli settlements and Israeli companies that are based in Israeli settlements are not a part of any joint program between the EU and Israel… they don’t benefit from EU support.”
In 2015 the EU voted to ban products labeled as “Made in Israel” if they are in fact made in illegal settlements in the West Bank. To be clear, products themselves made in illegal settlements are not banned - their manufactured origin must simply be labeled.
“It is up to the consumer to decide whether to buy that product or not.” Othman explained to Palestine Monitor. “So it is also an issue of raising awareness of European consumers of the origins of the goods that they are buying.”
Othman further explained the difficulty in obtaining a consensus among the 28 member states of the EU on the topic of sanctions against Israel.
The EU can agree on the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but seem to be unable to agree on stronger action in holding Israel accountable to international law.

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