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article imageCourt ruling qualifies settlement products as not Made in Israel

By R. C. Camphausen     Feb 27, 2010 in Business
Products from Israeli settlements on occupied territory do not qualify for preferential trade treatment under Israel's trade agreement with the European Community, says European Court of Justice.
Based on the fact that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law, the European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that products from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are not to be regarded as Made in Israel. Therefore, they cannot qualify for falling under the trade agreement between the European Community and Israel, which normally allows Israeli products to be imported into the Euro-zone free of import duties.
The Middle East Monitor reports on the history of the case, which began with a German company. This ground-breaking case began after the German company Brita told German customs authorities that its imports came from Israel and should therefore be exempt from import duties. The German authorities suspected that the goods actually originated from the West Bank and demanded Israel's clarification. That then led to legal proceedings at the end of which the European Court of Justice was asked to give a preliminary ruling.
Although settlement products are often agricultural in nature, Israeli companies based in and around settlements do manufacture a variety of products including wine and cosmetics, even computer equipment.
Palestinians have long argued that Israeli goods made in these places should not receive trade privileges, as those settlements are not part of Israel. Pro-Palestinian campaigners have also regularly protested that European supermarkets even stock such goods with labels such as Made in Israel.
According the the BBC, Israel has not yet formally replied to the new ruling.
The full press release by the Court of Justice of the European Union can be found in this PDF file.
More about Settlement products, Israeli settlements, European high court, Import duties
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