Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Dates Of Wrath

Obviously Israel's recent incursion into Rafah, and consequently the end of the 5 month ceasefire, was a pretty bad piece of news. However, since William has already commented on this, I shall draw your attention to recent British moves to correct European law regarding imports from Israel. Essentially, Israel has a deal with the EU concerning its imports, whereby lower tariffs are placed on them than most non-EU nations. However, these were only supposed to be products from within the green line, and there have been allegations that some of these (including dates and wine) are the produce of West Bank settlements.

This links up with another row over supermarket displays advertising products (such as, again, dates) as the produce of Israel. Even goods which are labelled as "West Bank" could still be from settlements and therefore no informed ethical consuming can take place from this knowledge alone. Thus, British attempts to get these correctly labelled are part of a wider attempt to reduce the economic power of the settlements - described by the government as "are illegal obstacle to peace". Haaretz has described this British objection as using a mere "technicality" in the trade treaty. This is ludicrous as the government of Israel agreed to the "Green Line" rather than any other borders. Israeli businesses know they are in the wrong and attempt to hide the fact by creating headquarters in Jerusalem for operations which in fact utilise land outside of that which is allowed by the mutually agreed treaty.

This is a small matter that may in fact set an important precedent in trade relations between the EU and Israel, and for West Bank settlements . We should hope that the letter of the law is observed for, as the saying of one supermarketgoes, every little helps.

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