Governments within the European Union (EU) have received a report issued by a prominent jurist in the UK stating that EU member states would be within their legal rights if they chose to ban products made in West Bank settlements, according to the British newspaper the Independent.The report, issued by James Crawford, Whewell Professor of International Law at the University of Cambridge, states that a ban would not violate any World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements or the EU-Israel Association Agreement.
The report gives two reasons for this. First, the West Bank and Gaza are not part of Israel’s territory and therefore agreements with Israel would not apply there. Secondly, one provision states that the agreement “shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles.” Israeli settlements in the West Bank have been widely condemned as illegal. They violate Palestinian human rights and international law including the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The report stops short of the assertion that the EU is obliged to act to ban settlement goods, merely stating that a ban would be within the law but not a requirement.
The Irish government has suggested the EU ban all settlement products. Several other governments within the EU are considering labeling settlement goods.
In related news, the US Presbyterian church voted to boycott settlement products on Friday just a day after voting against divestment in three companies doing business with the Israeli military.