The government has put pressure on British supermarkets to distinguish between West Bank goods produced by Palestinians and West Bank goods produced by Israeli settlers. The plan is designed to ensure that people can buy produce from the West Bank without money going to Israeli settlers:
Nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which were conquered in the 1967 war. The British government and the EU have repeatedly said Israel’s settlement project is an “obstacle to peace” in the Middle East.
EU law already requires a distinction to be made between goods originating in Israel and those from the occupied territories, though pro-Palestinian campaigners say this is not always observed.
Is this a good idea? Yes and no. In isolation, I don’t have a problem with it. Israeli settlement in the West Bank is a political issue, and this is a good way to support a particular point of view. I think that the settlements need to be dismantled, and so I am happy that if I bought certain items the money would go to the people who I think ought to live there. I am exercising my choice as a consumer.
In the wider scheme of things however, it seems like, once again, Israel is being singled out for special punishment. Whilst Israel deserves to be condemned over its settlements, this is part of a disturbing pattern. From Richard Ingram’s calls for Jews to identify their religion when commenting on the Middle East, to the laughably-named UN Human Rights Council which is obsessed with Israel, these sort of schemes only end up targeting Israel. Has the UK government called for supermarkets to differentiate between Han settlers and native Uighur produce? Or Han settlers and native Tibetan produce? Or any other number of areas where aggressive settlers backed by a powerful government have displaced the previous residents? Not that I am aware of. So the question becomes, once again, why Israel?
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Filed in: Current affairs,Economics,Middle East