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EU to finalize decision on labeling Israeli settlement products

Sept. 6, 2015 1:28 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 14, 2015 12:08 P.M.)
A sign painted on the wall of the Azza refugee camp in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, June 5, 2015. (AFP/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The European Union is slated to finalize a decision to label products made in illegal Israeli settlements, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini as saying on Saturday.

While the EU already labels settlement-made products for custom officials, because goods produced on the Palestinian side of the 1967 green line are not part of the body's free-trade agreement with Israel, there has yet to be an official decision to label such products on a consumer level.

The expected decision to label products made in illegal Israeli settlements follows a series of actions from bodies within the EU that have attempted to pressure Israel to change its settlement policies, which are considered illegal under international law.

In April, the foreign ministers from 16 out of 28 EU countries sent a letter to Mogherini asking her to push forward the process of labeling goods produced in Israeli settlements.

Three month later, the EU pushed through a decision to introduce labels on products made by illegal Israeli settlements, but did not make the practice official policy.

Following the decision, The European Council on Foreign Relations, a European think-tank, released a report urging the EU to curb its relations with Israeli banks and other financial institutions.

The report argued that the EU is breaching its own laws by not going far enough in making sure business is not done with the Israeli settlements, of which the EU has long condemned.

Ongoing EU demands for Israel to change its settlement policy, as well as increasing moves to divest from illegal settlements come as a campaign of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel has gained steam.

In 2014 foreign investments in Israel dropped by more than half, a UN report revealed this year.

News outlets and analysts speculate the dip in foreign investments was in part due to boycott campaigns, a changing international attitude towards Israel's illegal settlements, and Israel's latest Gaza offensive, where more than 2,200 Gazans were killed.

While the international community has increasingly expressed its disapproval of Israel's illegal settlement expansion, Israel has continued to add to existing settlements, as well as build new settlements at an exponential rate.

The right-wing government put together by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in March is largely comprised of MK's that promote rapid settlement expansion throughout occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and publicly oppose an independent Palestinian state.

Since Netanyahu's re-election last year, there has been a 40 percent increase in new settlement construction with an average of 460 new residential units per month, according to Israeli settlement watchdog, Peace Now.
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