Amnesty International has urged a ban on all settlement goods entering the UK because they are “tainted by illegality”.
In an action timed “to coincide with 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation,” the human rights group said it was “calling on all countries to prohibit settlement goods from their markets and to prevent their companies from operating in settlements or trading in settlement goods”.
Amnesty’s settlement boycott call, which was immediately criticised by pro-Israel groups in the UK, was designed to “help put an end to the multimillion-pound profits that have fuelled mass human rights violations against Palestinians,” it said.
The UK imported settlement goods including oranges, dates, spring water and halva desserts, but Amnesty said all countries “have a clear obligation to ensure respect for international humanitarian law and they should not recognise or assist in any manner the illegal situation that Israel’s settlement policy has created”.
Kate Allen, Amnesty’s UK director, said: “For decades, Britain and the rest of the world has shamefully stood by as Israel has destroyed Palestinians’ homes and plundered their land and natural resources for profit.
“The Israeli settlements are illegal – by extension, all settlement goods are tainted by illegality. The UK should no longer be party to this.”
However, the action was condemned by Zionist Federation chairman Paul Charney, who questioned the motives behind the Amnesty campaign in choosing the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War to launch a call for a ban.
“For years, Amnesty has appeared to have an unfathomably disproportionate interest in Israel, seemingly more so than any other conflict,” he said.
“For them to promote the ideals of separation and one-sided condemnation, rather than to support peace initiatives, shows us that Amnesty is politically-motivated and more interested in painting Israel in negative a light than aiding Palestinians.”
He added: “Shame on them for not using the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and the renewal of access to religious sites for all religions in Jerusalem as an opportunity to talk about bringing people together, rather choosing to continue to drive them apart.”