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UAE ‘directly benefiting’ from illegal Israeli settlement enterprise

February 7, 2022 at 3:44 pm

A general view shows the Israeli settlement in the West Bank on 28 October 2021 [AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images]

The UAE is directly benefitting from Illegal Israeli settlements and is in violation of international law according to recently signed bilateral trade agreements between Abu Dhabi and the occupation state, Hugh Lovatt, Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, has pointed out in a series of tweets.

Lovatt has worked to advance the concept of EU Differentiation, which includes a variety of measures taken by the European bloc and its member states to exclude settlement-linked entities and activities from bilateral relations with Israel.

The EU has never recognised the legality of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories (including those in East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights that have been formally annexed by Israel). This means that the EU has an obligation to practically implement its non-recognition policy by fully and effectively implementing its own legislation against Israel’s incorporation of settlement entities and activities into its external relations with the EU.

In 2016, Lovatt worked to have this measure enshrined within UN Security Council Resolution 2334. It passed in a 14–0 vote, with the US notably abstaining. The Resolution states that Israel’s settlement activity constitutes a “flagrant violation” of international law and has “no legal validity”. It demands that Israel stop such activity and fulfil its obligations as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

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Lovatt claims that recently released details of bilateral agreements between the UAE and Israel show that that the Gulf State is in violation of Resolution 2334 and the principal of differentiation which all UN member states are expected to abide by.

“Has the UAE respected international law and its obligations to differentiate between Israel and the settlements as per UNSCR 2334?” asked Lovatt in his tweet. “The answer: No.”

Lovatt explained that “to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 2334, every bilateral agreement signed with Israel should contain a ‘differentiation’ clause defining the territorial scope of its application to Israel’s pre-June 1967 borders. This is not the case in this UAE-Israel agreement”. He shared a screen shot of a clause from the bilateral agreement indicating that no such territorial distinction was made.

The definition of territory applied in the agreement includes all the land that is under “Israel’s jurisdiction”, which Lovatt explained include Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory.

Notably Japan’s trade agreement with Israel includes a definition of “Israeli territory” which upholds the differentiation principal and, therefore, does not fall foul of Resolution 2334, Lovatt said. The absence of this distinction in the bilateral agreement between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv means that the UAE is “directly” befitting from illegal settlements through its normalisation with Israel.

Lovatt admits that the UAE may have a different interpretation of the agreement than he does, in which case “it would be incumbent on the UAE government to clarify the agreement’s territorial applicability as soon as possible,” he added.