Ali Abunimah-7 June 2017
Human rights organizations are finally catching up with the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign to make Israel pay a price for its crimes against humanity.
On Wednesday, Amnesty International said that all states “must ban Israeli settlement products to help end half a century of violations against Palestinians.”
“The international community must ban the import of all goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements and put an end to the multimillion dollar profits that have fueled mass human rights violations against Palestinians,” Amnesty stated.
The group announced it was launching a campaign to mark this week’s 50th anniversary of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, to urge governments to take this long overdue step.
Lawns and swimming pools
“For decades, the world has stood by as Israel has destroyed Palestinians’ homes and plundered their land and natural resources for profit,” Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said. “While the Palestinian economy has been stunted by 50 years of abusive policies, a thriving multimillion dollar settlement enterprise has been built out of the systematic oppression of the Palestinian population.”
Shetty described a “discriminatory and criminal settlement policy that enables Israeli settlers to live on stolen land in homes with irrigated lawns and swimming pools, while Palestinian communities on their doorstep are deprived of access to enough clean water or electricity to cover their basic needs.”
“Israel has made it abundantly clear that maintaining and expanding settlements takes priority over respect for international law,” Shetty added. “It’s time for the world to send a clear message that it will no longer tolerate the Israeli authorities’ blatant disregard for international law.”
Amnesty’s statement comes more than a year after Human Rights Watch called on businesses to end all activities in or with Israeli settlements.
Human Rights Watch also urged governments to withhold aid to Israel.
Amnesty’s position arguably goes further, by urging governments to ban the importation of settlement goods outright.
This is in line with a growing consensus among international law experts and jurists that trade with Israeli settlements violates international law.
But campaigners face strong opposition from governments that continue to support trade with settlements.
The 28-member European Union, Israel’s largest trading partner, has imposed minimal requirements that goods from settlements be accurately labeled.
But the EU’s top envoy in Tel Aviv last year declared that settlement products were still “welcome” in European markets.
Emboldened by such complicity, Israel continues to aggressively expand its colonies on stolen Palestinian land, all of which are illegal under international law.
“It is utterly shocking that, since the occupation began 50 years ago, there has been virtually total impunity for the decades of war crimes, crimes against humanity and human rights violations committed in the occupied Palestinian territories,” Amnesty’s Shetty said.
The group’s endorsement of a total ban on settlement goods is a welcome, if belated, step in bringing Israel and the governments complicit with such crimes to account.