date: 9 July 2012
embargo: For immediate release
The UK can lawfully ban goods from the illegal Israeli settlements, concludes a legal opinion from Professor James Crawford SC, published by the TUC today (Monday).
The TUC is calling on the UK government to bring in such a ban following a successful consumer-led campaign that has seen most supermarkets take settlement goods off their shelves. But consumer pressure is unable to reach all parts of the settlement trade into Britain, with wholesale and catering industries being especially difficult, says the TUC.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Professor Crawford's opinion is clear. The Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and on this basis the UK could, under EU and World Trade Organisation law, unilaterally ban the trade that sustains them.
'Every settlement that is built weakens the hope of a sovereign Palestinian state that can live peacefully alongside a secure Israel. Governments across Europe agree with this, but they need to move beyond words of condemnation to taking practical action to stop the growth of any more settlements.
'UK governments have taken the lead. Since 2009 ministers have been encouraging retailers to make sure they accurately label goods from the settlements. This has made a real difference. Consumer pressure has persuaded most supermarkets to take settlement goods off their shelves.
'But there are parts of the settlement trade that consumer pressure simply cannot reach, such as the wholesale and catering industries, and that's why we need a total ban.
'The TUC does not support a ban against Israel, but we do support a boycott of goods from Israeli settlements because these are illegal, make life a misery for ordinary Palestinians and are ruining any chance of peace.'
Professor Crawford's opinion also supports the case for the UK acting alone, or with EU partners to place a ban on financial transactions that directly support the illegal settlements.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
-The Opinion on Third Party Obligations with respect to Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is available at: www.tuc.org.uk/legalopinion
-A TUC briefing note on the legal opinion which includes a biography of Professor Crawford is available at: http://www.tuc.org.uk/tucfiles/343/TUCbriefingCrawfordOpinion.pdf
-The TUC does not support a boycott of Israel but does support a targeted boycott of the illegal settlements. TUC Congress policy on Israel and Palestine from 2009 to 2011 is available at: www.tuc.org.uk/congresspolicy
- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
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Issued: 9 July, 2012