ATHENS – Will the boycott on settlement products expand from Africa to EU? The EU is considering an import ban on settlement products,
an official Greek representative said on Friday, when asked about his country's stance on the issue.
The Greek diplomat noted that the EU's committees are currently deliberating on the issue of settlement products and are expected to present their conclusions to the EU Executive Commission for is decision on the matter.
According to the diplomat, the EU talks include the option of marking all products that originate from any territory beyond the 1967 borders, as well as the option of banning imports
The official mentioned a similar import ban, on products from the Turkish held Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), as an example. The ban means that Turkey
is the only country connecting the TRNC to the rest of the world.
The diplomat was speaking to Israeli and Palestinian reporters at a Geneva Initiative seminar in Athens.
He did not offer any additional details on his own country's stance on settlement products, a subject which recently became front page news due to an official South African government decision
to mark all settlement products as well as local union decisions in Denmark and Britain.
Burning settlement products (Archives: AFP)
In July, Britain's The Independent newspaper published a legal brief compiled by James Crawford,
professor of international law at Britain's Cambridge University, which ruled that European governments "Are fully within their rights to ban trade with Israeli settlements" in the West Bank.
According to the report, Crawford's brief may fuel the cause of those within the UK and European Union seeking to harden their position on the imports of settlement products.
Various boycott campaigns have been staged against settlement products across Europe and in Britain over the past few years.
The brief also states that any EU nation that chooses to impose such a ban "on public policy grounds," will not be in breach of any EU or EC charter articles.
Crawford further argues that "by executing such a ban on trade with settlements, the EU would not be in breach of its World Trade Organization obligations since… as a matter of international law, the West Bank and Gaza cannot be considered to be Israel's territory."
But Prof. Crawford's opinion rejects arguments suggesting that EU member states are obliged – rather than merely able – to enforce a ban.
The Greek diplomat went on to add that relations between Israel and Greece have been growing closer over the past two years, which is why Greece is one of the only countries that can tell Netanyahu the truth.
Discussing the settlements he said: "We reiterate and stress to him (Netanyahu) that they are illegal. He listens, and sometimes he refers it to the courts like the Migron case."
The official then discussed Greece's stance on Iran and said that both Greece and the EU have a different position than Israel and the US – and that a diplomatic, not military solution was needed.