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NGOs accuse EU of helping illegal Israeli settelemtns.

| BRUSSELS, Oct 30 (KUNA) -- The European Union (EU) imports 15 times more from Israel's illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory than from Palestinians themselves, according to a new report released Tuesday by a coalition of 22 European non-governmental and Christian organisations.

The report, entitled "Trading away peace: How Europe helps sustain illegal Israeli settlements", is the first to compare available export data from Israeli settlements and Palestinians, highlighting the inconsistency at the heart of EU policy.

The EU says that "settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace, and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible," but continues to provide a primary export market for settlement products, noted the report.

Most EU member states have failed to ensure products are correctly labelled in stores, leaving consumers unaware of the products' true origin, contrary to the EU's own rules.

The report, which has an introduction by the former EU Commissioner for external relations, Hans Van den Broek, calls on European governments to adopt a range of concrete measures to stop assisting settlement expansion and close the gap between words and practice.

The report calls for clear labelling guidelines to ensure European consumers do not unknowingly buy illegal Israeli settlement goods.

The Israeli government estimates the value of EU imports from settlements at around EUR 230 million a year, compared to EUR 15 million a year from Palestinians.

Among the illegal Israeli settlement goods that are on sale in Europe are dates, grapes, citrus fruits, herbs, wines and cosmetics.

The NGO coalition includes Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Christian Aid, Church of Sweden, Cordaid (Netherlands), Norwegian Church aid, International Federation for Human Rights and Finnchurchaid (Finland) among others. (end) nk.hb KUNA 301459 Oct 12NNNN

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Publication:Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
Date:Oct 30, 2012
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