EU defends labeling products from illegal Israeli settlements
The European Union has reaffirmed support for its decision to label products made in settlements illegally built by the Israeli regime on the occupied Palestinian territories.
In a Monday statement, EU foreign ministers rejected Israeli claims that the bans were discriminatory and said the 28-nation bloc maintains its opposition to Tel Aviv’s expansionist policies.
Under the punitive measures that the bloc has been enforcing since November, notifications are attached to the products, informing that they had been made in settlements built by Tel Aviv on the land it occupied in 1967.
“The EU and its member States are committed to ensuring continued, full, and effective implementation of existing EU legislation and bilateral arrangements applicable to settlements products,” read the statement.
However, Tel Aviv maintains a defiant stance on the issue of illegal settlements on Palestinian land as it refuses to freeze settlement expansion.
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), however, welcomed the statement.
More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
Back in 2013, the bloc asked Israeli authorities to guarantee that EU funding is not channeled into settlements and that its cooperation projects with Tel Aviv do not take place on the occupied territories.
Israeli violence in West Bank
Also on Monday, the EU ministers addressed ongoing tensions between Israelis and Palestinian protesters in the West Bank.
“Security measures alone cannot stop the cycle of violence,” ministers said, calling for “a fundamental change of policy by Israel with regard to the occupied Palestinian territory.”
Since October 2015, at least 162 Palestinians and over two dozen Israelis have been killed.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has voiced concern over “extrajudicial killing” of Palestinians by Israeli forces.