In a letter sent to EU Foreign Policy Chief, Catherine Ashton, 29 members of the European Parliament have called upon the European External Action Service (EEAS) to take action to discourage European businesses from trading with illegal Israeli settlements.’There are several examples of the many ways in which European businesses contribute to the existence and expansion of the settlements,” said the letter. ‘Through their activities, they make direct and on-going contributions to Israeli violations of international law and to human rights abuses associated with the settlements.’

WAFA reports that the letter shared insight on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which were endorsed by the EU, which ‘make it clear that governments have an obligation to ensure that businesses domiciled in their territory do not contribute to human rights abuses in their overseas operations.’

‘In cases where businesses are operating in conflict areas, the Guiding Principles urge governments to provide “adequate assistance to business enterprises to assess and address the heightened risks of abuses.’

The 29 members concluded their letter calling upon the European firms to recall their economic relations with the Israeli settlements. ‘We urge the EEAS to publish guidance discouraging European firms from maintaining economic relations with the settlements.’

To be noted, private European businesses play a major role in funding, facilitating and supporting Israeli violations of international law and illegal Israeli settlements by providing products and services that facilitate the existence of illegal settlements, importing and selling goods produced by companies operating in illegal Israeli settlements and through investing in settlement companies and projects.

‘The EU should use its presence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories to educate European businesses about the problems and risks associated with such relations and to encourage Member States to take similar action.’