British MP’s urge economic sanctions against Israel
The UK parliament’s Select Committee on International Development has urged the government to suspend Israel’s preferential terms of trade until the Jewish state lifts the harsh restrictions it has placed on the Palestinian economy.
The committee issued a report on Thursday, February 4, 2004 on the humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip raising “serious concern over a range of policies adopted by the Israeli government and the negative impact they are having on living conditions of Palestinians."
The report calls on the UK government to propose to the EU Council of Trade Ministers a suspension of Israel’s preferential trade status with the regional grouping until it eases movement restrictions, which are crippling the Palestinian economy.
Israel reacted angrily to the report, calling it biased and unjust. Publication of such a critical report is unhelpful to Israel at a time when it is on the defensive diplomatically, including a hearing at the International Court in the Hague later this month over its security wall.
In recent years the EU has argued that Israeli products manufactured in Jewish West Bank settlements should not enjoy the same duty-free status as products made in other parts of the country. In August, the British government warned local food and agricultural importers that they will now be responsible for paying taxes on goods manufactured in Jewish settlements located in the Israeli occupied territories. The warning indicated that the zero-duty agreement between Israel and the EU "does not extend to goods originating in territories occupied during the 1967 war, including Gaza and the West Bank."
The EU could suffer financially from a suspension of its trade agreement with Israel. Member states exported €44 billion worth of goods to Israel between 2000 and 2002, while Israel exported €28 billion to EU countries. — (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)