A recent legal brief compiled by James Crawford, professor of international law at Britain's Cambridge University, has ruled that European governments "Are fully within their rights to ban trade with Israeli settlements" in the West Bank.
According to a Monday report in the Independent, 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.
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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.
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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.
According to the report, the legalist's brief will be published by the Trades Union Congress later this week.
The TUC has mounted a sustained campaign for a ban on settlement trade, but has stressed that its call is distinct from a boycott of Israel itself – which the organization does not support.
Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, told the Independent that "the UK had made a real difference by ensuring supermarket goods from settlements were properly labeled."
Barber added that the TUC believes that "Every settlement weakens the hope of a Palestinian state living peacefully alongside Israel"; and that "Governments across Europe agree with this, but they need to move beyond words to practical action."
Denmark and Sweden, as well as South Africa, are considering following the UK lead on labeling, while the Irish government has suggested the EU should consider an all-out ban on settlement goods, the report said.
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