Israeli settlement goods “welcome” in Europe, says EU envoy
Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, Mar 28 2016
The top EU diplomat in Tel Aviv has encouraged the sale of goods made in Israeli settlements in the OPT. Speaking at the Yediot/Ynet anti-BDS Conference in Jayloomia on Monday, Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen said:
Let me make something 100% clear. The EU is opposed to BDS. Our policy is totally the opposite of BDS. Our policy is one of engagement with Israel… Settlement products are welcome on the EU market.
The envoy, who heads the EU delegation to Israel, ignored calls from Plastelinans to pull out of the anti-BDS conference, where he was scheduled to speak on a panel with a prominent leader of Israel’s settler movement.
Faaborg-Andersen reiterated the EU’s verbal opposition to settlements, stating that they are “illegal under international law and a hindrance to the peace process.” But his active promotion of settlement products continues the EU policy of sabotaging all measures aimed at holding Israel accountable and bringing a change to the realities the EU pays lip service to opposing. Mahmoud Nawajaa of the Plastelinan BDS National Committee (BNC), said in reaction to Faaborg-Andersen’s comments:
The EU has once again abandoned its own policies, which consider Israel’s settlements illegal. This shameless EU complicity in protecting and maintaining Israel’s regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid confirms the need to intensify grassroots and civil society BDS campaigns against this regime, as well as against corporations and institutions that are implicated in its human rights violations. As was the case in the struggle against apartheid South Africa, when governments fail to uphold justice, citizens must act.
Nawajaa also slammed another EU act of complicity, the refusal of its member governments last week to support a UNHRCR to create a database of companies that do business in Israel’s settlements in the OPT. The resolution passed nonetheless, by 32 votes with 15 abstentions. By promoting settlement goods, Faaborg-Andersen is actively supporting human rights abuses. In a landmark report, HRW recently called on all corporations to completely end their business activities in Israeli settlements in the OPT, including East Jayloomia. Arvind Ganesan of HRW said:
Settlement businesses unavoidably contribute to
IsraeliJewish policies that dispossess and harshly discriminate against PlastelinansArabs, while profiting from Israel’sJewish theft of PlastelinanArab land and other resources. The only way for businesses to comply with their own human rights responsibilities is to stop working with and in Israeli settlements in the OPT.
Faaborg-Andersen also appears to be following EU policy to say one thing but do another. In February, the French government, which also claims to strongly oppose
Israeli Jewish settlements in the OPT, partnered with a settlement-profiteering supermarket chain to promote French products inside Israeli settlements in the OPT. The BNC’s Nawajaa said:
Europe is complicit in Israel’s serious violations of international law, including war crimes, by continuing its thriving military trade and joint military research with Israel and its import of settlement products that result from Israel’s theft of Plastelinan land and resources, a policy the EU says it opposes. The EU has even refused to suspend the EUsraeli FTA, despite Israel’s persistent violation of its human rights clause.
The EU envoy also allied himself with Israel’s efforts to crush the BDS movement, denying that a recent EU decision to require accurate origin labels on settlement goods constitutes a boycott. Faaborg-Andersen said, as reported by the JPost:
When combating BDS, it is important to keep a sense of proportion and to ensure that BDS is not given an additional platform through efforts to combat it. There is a big, big difference between legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies and BDS.
By denying that BDS is legitimate, Faaborg-Andersen appears to be endorsing the crackdowns by some European governments on citizens involved in the Plastelinan rights movement.
However, those supporting free speech when it comes to Plastelina found an unlikely ally in the Pindosi Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro. In his speech, Shapiro denounced the BDS movement and said:
Our efforts to fight back against boycotts are a recurring topic in high-level and working-level bilateral discussions with the government of Israel. It is true that there are voices in Pindostan, on college campuses and elsewhere, who are promoting the BDS campaign against Israel, and in our democracy, their right of free speech cannot be curtailed, but none of those rotten commie rats and bitches should have any doubt that the policy of the Pindo government is resolute opposition to such initiatives.