In July this year TV channel More4 and several national newspapers featured graphic reports about British supermarkets selling goods exported from illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank. This was a stark reminder of the continued apartheid policies of the Israeli state.
At the same time genuine Palestinian producers are deliberately prevented from producing and exporting goods by the drastic conditions of Israeli occupation, and insuperable clamp-downs on trade’. On August 23rd 44 peace activists sailed to Gaza to challenge the siege, and to show the world that the Palestinians are trapped.
Kim Howells the Minister responsible for relations with Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has stated that it “is essential to [ensure] that customers can make an informed choice between Palestinian produce and produce from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law”.
After 60 years of oppression, dispossession and occupation for the Palestinian people, and no justice from the international community, the BOYCOTT ISRAELI GOODS CAMPAIGN (BIG) is now launching a new campaign:
- To call on shoppers not to buy Israeli goods, and especially goods from the settlements – often misleadingly labelled ‘West Bank.’
- To call on the supermarkets to stop selling Israeli goods, and to stop colluding with Israel’s export of goods from the illegal settlements.
The emphasis on settlement exports spearheads the general case for the boycott of Israeli goods.
- Israel militarily controls every aspect of Palestinian life in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
- Israel’s racist housing policy has resulted in the demolition of 18,000 Palestinian homes since 1967.
- Israel restricts the movement of Palestinians with more than 600 roadblocks.
- Israel continues to expropriate Palestinian land to build its apartheid wall, declared illegal by the International court of justice in 2004.
A campaign spokesperson said, 'We are calling for a boycott of all Israeli goods, but also especially drawing attention to settlement goods. At present Israel exports fruit and vegetables grown in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and Britain is one of the largest importers. These settlements are illegal under international law. To be complicit in this crime is also a crime in English law. These goods are often inaccurately labelled 'Produce of Israel', or misleadingly as ‘West Bank’, causing customers to believe they are Palestinian goods. These goods also benefit, illicitly, from the preferential rates of customs duty under the EC-Israeli Preferential Trade Agreement, thereby costing the British taxpayer millions of pounds in unpaid customs duty.’
There are plentiful alternative sources of supply for all Israeli goods stocked by supermarkets – such as fresh herbs and medjoul dates and other fruit and vegetables. Many supermarkets claim to have ethical trading policies. They should now prove it.
Notes to Editors
1. Israel militarily controls every aspect of Palestinian life in Gaza , the West Bank and East Jerusalem , occupied since 1967
2. “The establishment of settlements in the West Bank violates international humanitarian law which establishes principles that apply during war and occupation. Moreover, the settlements lead to the infringement of international human rights law.
The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power from transferring citizens from its own territory to the occupied territory (Article 49). The Hague Regulations prohibit an occupying power from undertaking permanent changes in the occupied area unless these are due to military needs in the narrow sense of the term, or unless they are undertaken for the benefit of the local population.
The establishment of settlements results in the violation of the rights of Palestinians as enshrined in international human rights law. Among other violations, the settlements infringe the right to self-determination, equality, property, an adequate standard of living, and freedom of movement.” (http://www.btselem.org/english/Settlements/International_Law.asp)
3. Aid agencies report a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza because of the Israeli imposed siege ("The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion", Oxfam, Amnesty International, CAFOD, Trocaire, Save the Children, Care International, March 2008)
4. Israel 's racist housing policy has resulted in the demolition of 18,000 Palestinian homes since 1967. (The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) www.18000homes.org)
5. Israel restricts the movement of Palestinians with more than 609 obstacles to movement including checkpoints and roadblocks all over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem , and operates a segregated road system. ("Report No.65 Implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access and Update on Gaza Crossing (30 April – 13 May 2008)", United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, August 2008)
6. According to the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, Israel has killed 4,815 Palestinians, 951 of them minors in the last eight years alone.
7. Israel profits from exporting to the UK fruit and vegetables grown on illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land, and misleadingly labeled 'West Bank' ("'Illicit' settler food sold in UK stores", Observer, July 2008).
8. Israel continues to expropriate Palestinian land to build its apartheid wall, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice. ("Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory ", International Court of Justice, July 2004).
9. A call for boycott has been issued by Palestinians in the Occupied Territories . (Palestine BDS Campaign).
10. Israeli farms and companies prosper by exploiting stolen land and water, while impoverished Palestinian farmers are denied access to their own fields, orchards and wells and cannot market the few goods they manage to produce.
11. By stocking their shelves with Israeli goods, such as Carmel , Coral and Jaffa brands, supermarkets are supporting companies which benefit from the dispossession of Palestinian families.
12. For information about the Free Gaza Movement boat trip mentioned above please see http://www.freegaza.org/.
Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Box BM PSA
Tel: 020 7700 6192
Fax: 020 7609 7779