Citizen-led petition calls on Europe to ban trade with Jewish settlements

An Israeli checkpoint at junction of Gush Etzion, a block of Jewish settlements near Bethlehem (AFP)

MEE Staff

Middle East Eye  /  February 21, 2022

Petition calling on EU to boycott Jewish settlements receives support from over 100 civil society organizations and politicians.

Activists have called on Europe to ban trade with illegal Jewish settlements, with a citizen-led petition receiving support from dozens of civil society groups including the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

“Settlements unlawfully rob local populations of their land, resources, and livelihoods,” Bruno Stagno, HRW’s chief advocacy officer, said in a statement on Monday.

“No country should be enabling the trade in goods produced as a result of land theft, displacement, and discrimination.”

The rights group signed a European initiative collecting signatures to petition the European Union to change its policy towards Israel and “end trade with illegal settlements once and for all”.

The petition was submitted to the European Citizen’s Initiative, a lobbying tool set up to allow citizens to petition European institutions, in September 2021 and was accepted on 20 February 2022, meaning it can now start collecting signatures.

It has already received backing from over one hundred civil society organizations, grassroots movements, trade unions, and politicians.

The text needs at least one million signatures, based in at least seven different European countries, in order to progress to the next stage – in which organizers would be invited to meet with European representatives.

The petition calls on European states and MPs to adopt laws banning the import of products made in illegal Jewish settlements and outlawing the export of EU products there.

“This law will apply to occupied territories anywhere, among them the Occupied Palestine Territory and Israel’s illegal settlements there,” the petition says on its website.

“The law will also send a powerful signal around the world that the EU will no longer reward territorial aggression with trade and profits.”

The initiative comes amid growing calls from rights groups to hold Israel accountable for its treatment of Palestinians in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Last year, HRW published a 213-page report that said Israel’s dual policies, which are codified in its laws, privilege Jewish Israelis while repressing Palestinians and had “crossed the threshold” into apartheid. 

That report was followed by Amnesty International, which similarly concluded Israel’s unlawful practices against Palestinians amount to crimes of apartheid.

Apartheid is a legal term defined by international law that refers to systematic oppression by one racial group over another.