BRUSSELS // The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, yesterday urged international firms not to do business in Israeli settlements.
“I call on European companies and foreign companies doing business in the settlements to put an end to their activities,” he said after a meeting with the European Council president, Herman Van Rompuy, in Brussels.
“Such activities are a violation of international law.”
Mr Abbas said such a boycott would not be aimed at the state of Israel, but only targeted at settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
A UN rights expert has singled out several major international companies – including Motorola, Hewlett Packard, Veolia, G4S and Volvo Group – for their involvement in building and maintaining settlements.
Several European retailers also import produce from the West Bank, which is home to large farms producing fruit, vegetables and flowers.
EU frustration with Israel was made public in July when the bloc announced new guidelines that would ban its agencies from aiding or financing Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The measures, due to come into effect next year, prompted blistering rebukes from Israeli officials. Since then, Israeli authorities have barred officials working for EU institutions from visiting the Gaza Strip.
The measures are part of a build-up of exasperation that has been years in the making, rooted in the continued construction of settler dwellings on land Palestinians want for their future state.
The EU is Israel’s largest trading partner, In 2011, trade totalled nearly US$40 billion (Dh147bn).
* Agence France-Presse