Below is a summary of legislative and regulatory initiatives that have been introduced to take action against imports of settlement goods, and more generally to stop trade with Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory. Prepared by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), for the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Promote Palestinian Human Rights.
Updated January 27, 2022
Ireland is considering a bill to ban the import of goods from illegal settlements.
- Status: This Bill was initiated by Senator Frances Black (Independent), January 24, 2018. It passed all stages of the Seanad (upper house), and is currently stalled at the Third Stage of the Dáil (lower house).
- Summary: “an Act to give effect to the State's obligations arising under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and under customary international humanitarian law; and for that purpose to make it an offence for a person to import or sell goods or services originating in an occupied territory or to extract resources from an occupied territory in certain circumstances; and to provide for related matters.”
Finland is considering a legislative motion to ban the import of settlement goods.
Legislative motion: “Act on the prohibition to import goods originating from certain occupied territories.”
- Status: The legislative motion was introduced by MP Veronika Honkasalo (Left Alliance) in November 2021, and will be gathering signatures from MPs until February 1, 2022.
- Summary: “This legislative motion constitutes a proposal to prohibit the import of goods from certain occupied territories. If passed, the act would contain provisions banning the import of goods originating from territories where serious violations of international humanitarian law or human rights conventions occur in conjunction with occupation by a foreign power, in order to stop support to business enterprises that directly or indirectly contribute to infringements of human rights and international humanitarian law in such territories. A list of territories fulfilling these criteria would then be issued in a government decree pursuant to the provisions laid out in the act.”
An European Citizens' Initiative has been launched to petition the European Commission to propose legal mechanisms to stop the import of settlement goods from occupied territories into the EU market.
European Citizens' Initiative: “Ensuring Common Commercial Policy conformity with EU Treaties and compliance with international law.” (See also campaign website: Stop Settlements)
- Status: The initiative was registered with the European Commission on September 8, 2021. Campaigners have a campaign period of 12 months to acquire 1 million signatures in at least 7 EU countries. Following the campaign there will be a period of investigation and engagement with European Commission (up to 6 months).
- Summary of objective: “The Commission, as Guardian of the Treaties, has to ensure consistency of Union’s policy and compliance with fundamental rights and international law in all areas of EU law, including CCP [Common Commercial Policy]. It must propose legal acts to prevent EU legal entities from both importing products originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories and exporting to such territories, in order to preserve the integrity of the internal market and to not aid or assist the maintenance of such unlawful situations.”
The government of Belgium is moving to label settlement goods.
Status: In November 2021, the government of Belgium announced it was undertaking a series of measures to ‘differentiate’ between goods from Israel and from the settlements. These measures are the outcome of a federal coalition agreement.
- According to the announcement, Belgium will:
- Strengthen controls regarding the ‘origin’ of products, so that settlement goods are properly labelled: this includes entering in discussions with the European Commission and creating an ‘awareness campaign’ with businesses, in order to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of labelling.
- Ensure that treaties with Israel are not being improperly applied to products from settlements. In particular, Belgium will make sure that settlement goods do not receive preferential tariffs or other privileges that come with the Israel-EU Association Agreement.
- List Belgian companies that have links to companies that are active in the OPT according to the UN Database.
- Engage in debate with other EU members on the possibility of banning the import of settlement goods altogether.
Note: Belgium’s announcement follows legal precedents which mandate EU member states to label settlement goods:
- 2015 - European Commission adopted regulations barring settlement goods from being labeled as products of Israel. Labels will need to point out that products are made in an Israeli settlement, i.e. not just in the ‘West Bank’.
- 2019 – Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that products made in Israeli settlements must be labeled as such.