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EU Trade Sustains Israeli Settlements in West Bank

Despite the EU's outspoken criticism of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, imports from settlements are actually entrenching their existence, Dalia Hatuqa reports from the West Bank.
Volunteers harvest Chardonnay grapes at Ferency family's vineyard near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Bat Ayin, south of Bethlehem August 20, 2012. Established in 1993, Ferency's winery produces some 6,500 bottles of kosher wine a year using organically grown grapes. REUTERS/Nir Elias (WEST BANK - Tags: FOOD AGRICULTURE)

The Jordan Valley has the potential to be the Palestinian breadbasket, yet restrictions on Palestinians’ use of land, water, and on building in the valley are keeping them poor while helping nearby Israeli settlements thrive. This stark report by Oxfam says Palestinians could generate an extra $1.5 billion annually if these Israeli restrictions were removed. However, the reality remains that this arable area is benefiting few Palestinians and a majority Israeli settlers, who are given unhindered access to land and water resources.

Delving into the issue further one can find that the European Union (EU), a vocal critic of Israel’s blatant disregard of international law, is actually supporting the very same settlements it criticizes. According to Palestinian legal rights group, Al Haq, by trading in produce grown in settlements, the EU is “directly contributing to the growth and viability of settlements by providing an essential source of revenue that allows them to thrive. This is especially true of settlements in the Jordan Valley, at least 60 percent of which are dependent on agriculture.”

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