- Published on Tuesday, 05 June 2012 10:19
By Gary Spedding
In an article published on Tuesday, May 15, 2012 by the Irish Times it was noted that the Irish State may seek a Boycott of all Israeli Settlement goods in Europe, the significance of which is massive given Ireland is next in line for Presidency of the European Union.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore who made the statement has to date proven to hold a progressive attitude toward the Israel - Palestine conflict. Difficulty also arises among those who would try to criticize him for taking such a strong position on Settlements as the usual accusations of undue bias that typically gain momentum from the vocal anti-Palestinian crowd simply won't work with Gilmore, especially given his recent condemnation of tactics employed by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign in their efforts to secure a cultural boycott of Israel from the Irish band Dervish which ended in a very hearted public debate that did not benefit the Palestinian cause.
On the topic at hand the issue of Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories has been known for quite some time as one of the largest core issues and most urgent obstacle to peace which Israel has consistently and persistently denied to be of concern to them despite their claims of desiring a meaningful peace.
Internationally the settlements are regarded as Illegal, after the ICJ ruled in its advisory opinion of 2004 that the construction of the wall and settlements is contrary to international law many found renewed hope in the possibility international law would be applied to Israel on this particular point.
Alas settlements have continued to grow with new ones cropping up with each successive Israeli government from 1967 to this day. These expansions into occupied territory have been condemned by the International community as a serious setback to any proposed peace agreement.
Israel's government however continues to permit the addition of housing units to existing settlements along with the construction of new settlements all of which is fully authorized, approved and even sponsored by the government within its framework known as the "Settlement Enterprise".
This enterprise has resulted in over 498,000 Israeli settlers living in settlements, not only with government approval but subsidies for living costs as well so there is an economic pull to living in settlements. Israeli Human Rights NGO B'tselem states in its most recent report that "As of mid-2011, there are 124 Israeli settlements in the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem). 121 were established with official government recognition."
Discourse always appears to favor the discussion around debating the legitimacy of these settlements especially in East Jerusalem which Israel annexed without approval, what we are missing however is the implications and impact that these settlers and settlements have on the Palestinian population. Israel is so desperate to hide the crimes committed as a result of violent settlers and the settlements that it severed all contact with the UN human rights council in March 2012, after the international body decided to establish an international investigative committee on the West Bank settlements in particular the impact they have on Palestinian Human rights.
Listing all of the abuses and crimes that have occurred as a result of the settlements in a single article is impossible that is why there are human rights reports on the issue which readers should look up.
Injustice is what we are challenging here yet looking at Israeli media responding to Mr. Gilmore's proposed idea for a targeted settlement boycott we can witness the hysteria caused. One company even threatened to sack its Arab workers who earn practically nothing anyway if a boycott is sought thus trying to propagate that BDS harms Palestinians more than it does the Israeli occupation.
These kinds of threats or indeed the marketed way in which some claim that boycotts will only end up harming the Palestinians themselves can be valid arguments, however if we aren't prepared to stand on principle and solidarity by challenging injustices by chipping away at the overall enterprise and framework, how can we propose to truly care for the human rights of these people?
Above all else this is why support for a concise targeted boycott of Settlements is on the increase as it has a distinctly outlined purpose with set goals. Using well researched information that informs people rather than demonizing or individually attacking them as Israelis is another great part of BDS that if followed correctly adheres to the principles of a truly nonviolent response to occupation.
Citizens of Israel living inside the green line have even set up a movement to boycott the settlement industry a number of years ago, this is because they too recognized and responded to what the Palestinians were saying in that settlements are an obstacle to peace.
Unfortunately Mr. Gilmore is meeting huge opposition from anti-Palestinian groups in Ireland who started a petition firstly on the community site Avaaz which then got moved to change.org where the petition sponsor attempts to mislead those who read the petition by using vague language that holds little factual basis to it.
Removing the original anti-Palestinian petition from Avaaz the community team stated that they used two opposing petitions "As an example" of where they "recently ran a member poll on the proposed EU boycott of goods produced in the Israeli settlements" they also state firmly that "Two thirds of members supported the pro-boycott position, and so the petition expressly opposing that view was removed from the Community Petitions site".
For all those wishing to sign the Petition that supports the Irish Minister in his endeavours to gain an EU wide boycott of Israeli Settlement goods you can find the petition by following the link below:
Gary Spedding is a Zoology Undergraduate and Freelance Journalist covering the Israel/Palestine Conflict