GUE/NGL MEPs had a constructive meeting today with representatives from the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Palestine.

The Palestinian BDS movement is a wide consensus human rights coalition of the largest Palestinian organisations, trade unions, networks and NGOs. It stands for ending apartheid and discrimination against all Palestinians, ending the occupation, and defending the right of return for Palestinian refugees, who represent 69% of all Palestinians.

BDS Director Omar Barghouti said: “We want the EU to put pressure on the corporations who, through their assets, interests, or activities, profit from occupation. The Norwegian pension fund has recently divested from several companies involved in the occupation, and a Dutch pension fund divested from a top Israeli bank. Security firm G4S announced it would not be renewing its contract with the Israeli prison system due to the contracts it lost as a result of this involvement.

“All of this is encouraging and proves that putting pressure on the corporate world to divest is working. The aim of the divestment is to get to the Achilles' heel of the occupation and it is clear that Israel sees BDS as a strategic threat as it is destroying 'brand Israel'. What we need now is our South Africa moment, for full isolation in all fields, including an end to the EU-Israel association agreement, what does it take for EU leaders to see that Israel's actions are human rights violations and in breach of the Geneva Convention?”

He also highlighted that labelling did not go far enough as it was like having a contraband product, labelling it illegal, and then selling it anyway.

GUE/NGL MEP Marisa Matias said: “During the negotiations on Horizon 2020 one of the proposals I made on behalf of GUE/NGL was to forbid EU funding for Israeli projects and bodies located in occupied Palestinian territory; it was the major sticking point in the negotiations. Despite the huge pressure from the Council to resist this, the European Commission announced that products from settlements would be banned in the EU, and I thought this was a huge victory. But unfortunately now I'm hearing that the goods are still getting through. This means Israel is cheating and the EU knowingly accepts this.”

GUE/NGL MEPs pledged to contact European delegates In Jerusalem and call on them to help assess Israel's compliance. The MEPs will also put pressure on the European Commission to take a stronger position regarding the ban and will reach out to MEPs from other political groups and appeal for them to join in signing a letter calling for a suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

Omar Barghouti also added the need to call for an arms embargo: “The first lesson in peacemaking is that you don't sell arms to conflict zones.”

Press contact:
Emily Macintosh +32 470 85 05 08
[email protected]

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