Spain, Italy advise against settlements investment


(JTA) — Spain and Italy bring to five the number of major European Union countries warning citizens against investment in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Those countries joined France, Germany and Britain in issuing such advisories.

The warning Thursday on the Spanish foreign ministry website cites European Union policy which deems illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan. These settlements “constitute an obstacle to peace” and the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the statement said.

Israel disputes the illegality of settlements in the West Bank and considers the Golan Heights and all of Jerusalem part of its territory.

“The potential buyers and investors should know that a future peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria could have consequences both for properties acquired and for economic activities promoted in said settlements,” the Spanish statement said. “In case of litigation, it could be very difficult for member states to guarantee the protection of their interests.”

E.U. entities considering commercial activities in what the European Union considers settlements “should be aware of the potential implications for their reputation”, the statement said.

Stopping short of calling for such entities to refrain from investing in these areas, the statement advised them to “seek adequate legal counsel before moving ahead” with such plans.

“The statement is not intended as a call for a boycott in any way, or to limit economic cooperation between Spain and Israel within its internationally-recognized borders,” Carlos Entrena Moratiel, a ministry spokesman, told JTA.

Haaretz said Thursday that Italy posted a similar advisory.

France posted an advisory reiterating its longstanding policy earlier this week and in an explanatory note posted on its foreign ministry website on Thursday elaborated that citizens considering such investments should seek legal advice before proceeding.

The French ministry said the warning was in line with European Union policy on settlements.

Various European media have reported that the advisories have come in part because of the collapse in April of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

“While this advice is not new in essence, it is part of the European diplomatic campaign against the settlements,” an Israeli diplomat serving in Western Europe told JTA.

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