Ireland is planning to utilize its upcoming six-month term as President of the Council of the European Union, which begins on January 1 2013, to advance efforts to achieve a joint decision between all 27 member states to ban products made in Judea and Samaria.
The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, wrote a letter dated November 2 to the chairman of the Irish parliament's Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, which called for a “stronger response” to Israel’s “relentless expansion” and a ban that would be “consistent with EU values."
While he said there was “a moral case for banning settlements products”, he admitted that such actions would do little to slow the expansion of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and concluded that the products made in the region in fact constitutes “a small fraction of imports to the EU from Israel”.
He also noted that due to various legal and practical issues, there is no reason to implement a ban on such products at the national level and stressed that only a comprehensive EU ban, at the international level, would be effective.
“I am somewhat concerned that attention is being focused excessively on the issue of settlement products, which form only one aspect, and a comparatively small one, of the problem. The key issue is settlements themselves and their relentless expansion,” he said.
Ireland is not the first EU member state to advocate a ban on Israeli products. In May, Denmark’s Foreign Minister Villy Sovndal announced that his country would begin marking Israeli goods originating in Judea and Samaria with a special label.
He said the move was designed to “clearly show consumers that the products are produced under conditions that not only the Danish government, but also European governments, do not approve of."
"It will then be up to consumers whether they choose to buy the products or not," he added.
He insisted that the move did not amount to a boycott of all Israeli goods, but rather those "considered illegal under international law."