European NGOs accuse E.U. of aiding settlements through trade

THE HAGUE (JTA) — Twenty-two European non-governmental organizations have accused the European Union of aiding Israeli settlements by trading with them.

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

The E.U. currently imports $300 million of goods a year from Israeli settlements, according to World Bank figures, even though it views them as illegal under international law.

This means the E.U. imports over 100 times more per settler than per Palestinian, said the report, titled "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 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.

"If Europe wants to preserve the two-state solution, it must act without delay and take the lead," he said of the recommendations listed in the 36-page report.

Settlement goods on sale in Europe, many from the potential breadbasket of the Jordan Valley, 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. 

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