A petition under the European Citizens Initiative (ECI) was launched on 20 February to advocate in favour of banning trade that benefits illegal settlements, among them the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). The petition has been initiated by “Stop Settlements”, a coalition that represents a wide alliance of NGOs, grassroots movements, trade unions and politicians, who unite against profits from occupation and annexation of territory to protect human rights, fair trade, and international peace and stability.
The ECI requests, in particular, the European Commission to submit a proposal for a legal act under the Common Commercial Policy to regulate commercial transactions with entities based or operating in occupied territories, by banning products originating in these territories from entering the EU single market. It is well established that the construction of settlements violates international humanitarian law and general norms of international law, including the prohibition to acquire territory by the use of force and the right to self-determination. Furthermore, all States and international organisations, including the EU and its Member States, have an obligation not to recognise a situation arising from an unlawful conduct, or in violation of international law, nor may they render support or assistance in maintaining that situation.
EU’s obligation to act
Therefore, trading with illegal settlements amounts to recognition and assistance, as it allows for profits from illegal acquisition of territory and further contributes to the expansion of the settlement enterprise. Also, such trade encourages the occupier to continue exploiting the resources of the occupied territories for its benefit and interest. Moreover, EU Member States are under an obligation to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law. They have also endorsed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Accordingly, it is imperative that the EU and its Member States take the necessary measures to ban settlement products.
The ECI has been endorsed by several human rights organisations, including EuroMedRights, who all share the same values and goals. It aims to reach one million signatures to urge the European Commission to act and send a loud and clear message: the EU and its Member States uphold their international obligations, and do not recognise unlawful situations nor do they assist in maintaining them.
Moving from labelling to banning products originated from the illegal settlements in the OPT is a longstanding objective of EuroMed Rights. This citizens initiative approaches this objective from a legal perspective, calling on the EU to comply with its own Treaties and international law.
EuroMed Rights endorses the public call for support of this European Citizens Initiative (ECI) ECI(2021)000008. This process was initiated years ago around the growing calls of Palestinian CSOs to ban settlement products originating in the OPT from entering the EU, and vice-versa. You can find more information from the dedicated website. EuroMed Rights member organisations Al-Haq, CNCD.11.11.11 and ARCI already support this initiative.