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Israel asks UK to include settlements in free trade deal

February 15, 2020 at 11:54 am

Evangelical Christian volunteers harvest Chardonnay grapes for Psagot Winery in a vineyard on July 24, 2017 in the illegal Israeli settlement of Psagot in the West Bank, Palestine [David Silverman/Getty Images]

Israel has asked the UK to include illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights in the free trade deal being discussed between the two sides, Israel Hayom reported on Thursday.

According to the Israeli newspaper, Israeli Economy Minister Eli Cohen had written to his British counterpart, Conor Burns, informing him: “Most of Israel’s free trade agreements, such as the agreement with the United States, apply to the State of Israel, which is wherever the law applies.”

The newspaper announced that the terms of the post-Brexit free trade deal were already laid down, noting that they are the same terms as the free trade deal with the EU.

The EU does not recognise the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories as part of Israel; therefore, the mutual free trade deal with Israel excludes the settlements.

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However, the newspaper added, Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, hopes that the UK takes a different approach after leaving the EU.

Earlier this month, the Times of Israel reported that Netanyahu had spoken with his British counterpart, Boris Johnson, and discussed several issues relating to mutual cooperation.

“I spoke today with UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, and congratulated him on Brexit. We discussed regional affairs, especially on the ‘deal of the century’,” the newspaper reported Netanyahu had posted on Twitter.

Both parties, the newspaper added: “Agreed to continue to strengthen the economic relationship between the two countries and to start discussions on a free trade zone between Israel and the UK.”

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