From the Quaker Report Trading Away Peace:
How Settlements Benefit at the Expense of Palestinians
Settlement farmers and manufacturers benefit from wide-ranging Israeli government subsidies & enjoy access to international markets via government built roads that bypass Palestinian populated areas.
The most common settlement products sold in Europe include agricultural products such as dates, citrus fruits and herbs and manufactured products like cosmetics, carbonation devices (SodaStream), plastics, textile products and toys.
Despite its position that settlements are not part of Israel, Europe has been accepting imports of these settlement products with the origin designated as “Made in Israel” many of these products are sold in EU stores under the misleading label” Made in Israel” denying consumers their right under existing EU consumer protection legislation to make informed decisions when they shop.
Some European owned companies have invested in settlements and related infrastructure or provided services to them like Veolia. Winnipeg has a direct connection with Veolia as our city government signed a contract with them to manage our water for the next 30 years. Watch for an upcoming report about Veolia on this blog.
Meanwhile, other companies like Unilever, Deutshe Bahn (German), and Assabloy (Sweden) have moved their operations out of the West Bank in recent years.
The Role of International Law
International law stipulates that third parties including European governments have the duty NOT to recognize, aid or assist settlements as well as the duty to effectively oppose them
Quaker Recommended Measures for National Governments & the EU as Appropriate
1. Ensure correct consumer labelling on all settlement products as a minimum measure as done by the UK and Denmark
2. Discourage businesses from purchasing settlement goods and from all commercial & investment links with settlements
3. Ban imports of settlement products as called for by Ireland
4. Exclude settlement products from preferential market access by insisting that Israel start designating the origin of settlement products differently from Israel
5. Issue guidelines for European tour operators to prevent support for settlement businesses
Israeli Settlements and Their Impact
There are now more than 500,000 Israeli settlers living in over 200 settlements in the West Bank
Area C is under full civil and military control of the Israeli government
It connects 227 separate enclaves and contains the majority of agricultural & grazing lands
The Apartheid Wall cuts deep into the West Bank and divides Palestinian communities from one another
Restrictions on Palestinian Economy and Trade
Palestinians have a right to export their products without restrictions and should be given equal treatment to Israel exporters.
The EU and EFTA both have trade agreements with the Palestinians granting them preferential access to the European market including duty free access to industrial products.
However wide ranging Israeli restrictions on Palestinians make this impossible.
For example, all Palestinian goods destined for Israel or further export must pass through Israeli checkpoints and extensively checked before reloaded, this is very time consuming and often Palestinian produce, like fruit and vegetables, end up spoiling.
Why Settlements Are Illegal
If anyone asks you to explain it, here are the most important points:
As an Occupying power, Israel is obligated to follow International Humanitarian Laws that were established by the Geneva Convention (1949) as well as the Hague Regulations (1907).
The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an Occupying power from transferring its citizens into the Occupied Territory (Article 49). Israel was a signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention document. Moreover, the Hague regulations prohibit an occupying power from undertaking permanent changes in the occupied areas, unless they are due to specific military needs or are undertaken to benefit the local population, in this case the Palestinians.
Clearly then, the creation of settlements like Ma’ale Adumin and Mishor Adumin Industrial Park stand in complete violation of the Geneva Conventions.
How Settlements Benefit: At the Expense of Palestinians
Did you know? Israel’s exploitation of water resources of the occupied territory at the expense of the local population is an ongoing violation of international law. Moreover, by continuing to import crops grown in settlements Europe and North America continue to contribute to this violation.
Settlements are also classified by Israel as “national priority areas”, which entitle them to many financial benefits and tax incentives. Settlements have also established agribusinesses and industrial zones (like Mishor Adumin) that manufacture goods for export to the EU and other international markets like the U.S. and Canada.
Benefits to Settlement Businesses, Like SodaStream
Some of the benefits that give settlement businesses an advantage include:
• state investment in the development of industral areas that have been built in settlements (like Mishor Adumin)
• a 69% discount on lease of land that is intended for industrial use, tourism and trade
• grants of 24% of a factory’s investment, income tax benefits, as well as grants for research and development of up to 60% of the cost of every project as well as assistance in hiring workers in certain areas of activity
• the Israeli government also invests considerably in settlement infrastructure, including special settler-only roads.
• finally, the Israel government even reimburses settlement exporters that are required to pay EU import duty, this compensation was introduced