European NGOs accuse EU of aiding settlements

Twenty-two European nongovernmental organizations have accused the European Union of aiding Israeli settlements by trading with them.

The accusation came in a letter sent Oct. 29 undersigned by the NGOs and Hans van den Broek, a former European Union foreign policy chief and former Dutch foreign minister, AFP reported.

The EU imports $300 million in goods per year from Israeli settlements, according to World Bank figures, even though it views the settlements as illegal.

This means the EU imports 100 times more per settler than per Palestinian, said the report, “Trading Away Peace: How Europe Helps Sustain Illegal Israeli Settlements.”

Among the co-signatory NGOs are the International Federation for Human Rights, Christian Aid UK and Ireland, and the Christian development organization Diakonia.

In the report, van den Broek wrote that it was urgent to agree on “concrete measures” to contain settlement construction, which he said was the main factor blocking the resumption of the peace process.

Settlement goods on sale in Europe include dates, grapes, citrus fruits, herbs, wines, Ahava cosmetics, plastic Keter garden chairs and SodaStream carbonated drink products popular in Sweden.

Britain and Denmark have demanded goods be labeled “West Bank-Israeli settlement produce” or “Palestinian produce” in supermarkets. — jta