The UK Government has confirmed that Israeli settlements in the West Bank will not be part of any future UK-Israel free trade deal after Britain leaves the European Union.
Middle East Minister Andrew Murrison clarified the position in the House of Commons this week, in an answer to a question from Labour’s Lisa Nandy MP.
He said: “We do not recognise the Occupied Palestinian Territories as part of Israel and therefore they are not covered by the EU-Israel Association Agreement which currently governs our trade with Israel, nor the UK-Israel Trade and Partnership Agreement, which will govern our trade after the UK leaves the EU.”
He added that products from Israeli settlements “do not receive preferential tariff treatment under either Agreement”. Settlement products are not banned from entering the UK, and labelling their settlement origin is optional.
Murrison also said there were “no plans” to reconsider the Government’s opposition to listing in the UN business and human rights database of companies involved in settlement-related activities in the Palestinian territories.
The UN settlement blacklist is contentious and Murrison said the Government felt the database went “beyond the competence of the Human Rights Council… Human rights obligations are directed at states, and not individuals or businesses.”
He added: “Ultimately it is the decision of an individual or company whether to operate in settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The British Government neither encourages nor offers support to such activity.”