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PNGO applauds growing pressure within EU against economic activities in illegal Israeli settlements, and calls for strong commission-wide statement.

As the representative body for over 135 non-governmental organisations, the Palestinian Non-governmental Organisation (PNGO) wishes to both applaud and strongly affirm the recent statements made by key member countries of the European Union – including France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands – regarding the negative implications of conducting economic activities within illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt).

Most recently, Italy’s foreign minister Frederico Mogherini advised Italian companies on Friday (June 27, 2014) to avoid involvement in financial activity and investments in illegal Israeli settlements due to the associated legal and financial dangers. The statement emphasised that private companies doing business with, signing contracts with, or transferring funds, buying land or receiving touristic service funds from settlements did so at their own legal risk. This comes in addition to statements released by other EU members, including the Spanish Foreign Ministry which onThursdayhighlighted that investment in these settlements “could lead to disputes over land, water, quarries or natural resources”, and that “companies must take into account that [economic activities in illegal Israeli settlements] is liable to lead to their involvement in breaking international law and violating human rights”.

The PNGO enthusiastically notes that Italy and Spain’s comments this week reflect a wider push within the European Union to begin to lessen economic resourcingof Israeli settlements that lie outside of Israel’s official 1967 state borders. In the same month that 1,500 new settlement homes were approved for construction in the West Bank, the European Union’s representative to Israel, Lars Fabourg-Andersen, said on Friday that the statements given by multiple member states “should not come as a surprise” as theyare a clear reminder that EU states “are losing their patience when it comes to continued construction in the settlements and, if the trend continues, more countries will join these warnings against businesses operating over the Green Line” (i.e. beyond the mutually-agreed 1967 borders).

In acknowledgement of these powerful statements by EU member states, the PNGO encourages the EU as a whole totake a strong stand against economic cooperation with illegal settlements, as such cooperation not only implicates financial and legal risks for the involved companies should a peace agreement be reached, but also severely constricts – and, in some cases, entirely removes – opportunities for the upholding of basic human rights for Palestinians in the oPt. Beyond this, we urge the EU to follow through on inferences made this week by releasing a general, commission-wide warning on this important issue – to be reinforced tangibly where possible – in order to warn against the resourcing of illegality in the Palestinian territories. Not only will a discontinuation of economic dealings with Israeli settlements will be of legal and financial benefit for international companies, it will also contribute to the upholding of the human rights of the protected Palestinian people. Beyond this, the PNGO recognises that such a termination of financial investmentin settlements is an overdue precursor to the cessation of this 47-year occupation, to the creation of a free, independent Palestinian state, and to the enshrined right of return for all Palestinians in order that they may live dignified lives free from oppression.

With confidence,

The Palestinian Non-governmental Organisations Network.