Ireland will be taking over as President of the Council of the European Union at the beginning of 2013, and Haaretz reports it will use the position to push for an EU ban on settlement products:
Ireland is planning to utilize its upcoming 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 from West Bank Settlements.
The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, revealed the plan in a letter to the chairman of the Irish parliament’s Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade (PDF).
In a letter obtained by Haaretz, dated November 2, Gilmore wrote that during a meeting of EU foreign ministers in October, he declared that Ireland will give rise to discussions and support a comprehensive EU boycott of goods from settlements.
In an interview with the Jerusalem Post Gilmore explains he supports the move on moral grounds:
Ireland supports a ban on West Bank settlement products even though the European Union is unlikely to impose one, its Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore stated.
“Ireland would support a ban at EU level, and put it forward as an option the Council might consider,” Gilmore said.
He wrote this opinion earlier this month in a letter to the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, the text of which was posted on the web Friday by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Gilmore said he supported a settlement products ban on moral, not legal grounds.
He explained that while settlements were illegal under international law, the people that lived in them and the products they produced were not.
“I believe there is a moral case for banning settlement products, and I agree it could have a symbolic,” Gilmore wrote.
It would be consistent with EU values and positions to exclude settlement products from the EU, he wrote.
Gilmore cautioned, however, that he didn’t fool himself into thinking that such a ban would make an economic impact.
“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.