The European High Court ruled on Thursday that products from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are not included in Israel’s trade agreement with the European Community (EC) for preferential trade treatment.
The EC have agreements with both Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) which give preferential treatment to goods coming out of their two respective areas. The EC-PLO Association Agreement was “for the benefit of the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip” while the EC-Israel Association Agreement covers the “territory of the state of Israel.” However, Israel has tried to argue that their agreement should extend to include Israeli products produced by Israeli companies in the West Bank.
Thursday’s ruling has halted this assertion in its tracks by stating very clearly that member states customs authorities “may refuse to grant the preferential treatment provided for under the EC-Israel Association Agreement where the goods concerned originate in the West Bank.” (Para 58 of judgement).
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. Their ruling that Israeli goods can only get preferential treatment if those goods have been manufactured inside Israel itself will be a boost to the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign who has been pushing for the correct labelling of settlement goods in order to help buyers make conscious decisions when purchasing goods from the region and ensure that Israeli settlement products are boycotted.
Read the full Press Release published by the Court of Justice of the European Union
Products originating in the West Bank do not qualify for preferential customs treatment under the EC-Israel Agreement