The Stop the Settlements petition is calling for an EU ban on imports from illegal Israeli settlements, but it has met with accusations of trying to promote the destruction of Israel.
The petition calls for an EU ban on imports from illegal settlements, including Israeli ones in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. It is a so-called European Citizens’ Initiative, a tool developed by the EU allowing citizens to prompt the European Commission to propose new laws.
It is a second go at the topic – in 2019, the EU Commission declined to even register a citizens’ initiative for a similar petition by the same sponsors, on the grounds that it had no legal powers to impose trade sanctions. No signatures were ever collected.
Nevertheless, in May 2021, the EU General Court in Luxembourg said the Commission was wrong. EU officials started accepting signatures on the new petition on Sunday, February 20, giving organisers 12 months to meet the one-million threshold.
However, even if the new petition won sufficient support, fierce opposition from pro-Israeli EU countries. For example, in recent years, Hungary has routinely vetoed EU criticism of Israel.
The European Jewish Congress (EJC), a Brussels-based group, immediately branded the campaign part of wider efforts to destroy Israel. „The agenda of many of these organisations is not to promote human rights, international law or a peaceful resolution to the [Arab-Israeli] conflict, but to foment emotional anger and make a malicious claim about the illegitimacy of the only Jewish state in the world, and to promote the narrative of those states and political movements which seek to wipe it off the map.”
The EJC pointed out that two of the organisations behind the petition have „well-established links” to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is on the EU’s terrorist register, which the two organisations Al-Haq and Addameer, denied last November.
Spokesman of the Stop the Settlements petition Tom Moerenhout underlined that the petitions is not aimed at Israel but to make EU institutions respect international rule of law. „Antisemitism is despicable and there is no place for that in our campaign,” he added, mentioning other conflict hotspots in the EU neighbourhood.