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July 19, 2013 12:41 pm

Simon Wiesenthal Center Calls on World Trade Organization to Condemn EU ‘Earthquake’ Anti-Israel Directive

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WTO HQ in Brussels, the William Rappard Hall where Secretariat staff discuss trade policy, negotiate rules and seek to resolve trade disputes.

WTO HQ in Brussels, the William Rappard Hall where Secretariat staff discuss trade policy, negotiate rules and seek to resolve trade disputes.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has called on the World Trade Organization to condemn the EU “Earthquake” directive, that came into effect today, to place controversial trade and funding restrictions on Israel.

In a letter, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, called on WTO Director General Pascal Lamy, “to condemn the European Union for these discriminatory and anti free-trade measures against one of your member-states. Our Center urges the WTO to press Brussels to announce their cancellation forthwith.”

Samuels said this “is another building block of an EU discriminatory policy against the State of Israel.”

Two weeks ago, the EU issued the directive, disclosed to the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper this week, requiring all 28 European member states to ban all funding, collaboration, scholarships, research grants and awards to Israeli entities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The rule also requires that any future agreements signed with Israel must include a clause stating that the settlements are not part of the sovereign State of Israel and therefore are not part of said agreement. The directive becomes active in 2014.

A senior Israeli official told Haaretz that the ruling was an “earthquake” which unprecedentedly turns “understandings and quiet agreements that the Union does not work beyond the Green Line” into “formal, binding policy.”

Samuels said “the EU’s policy to Israel destroys poverty reduction, welfare and development of Israelis and Palestinians employed in industries targeted. It undermines peaceful resolution by discouraging Palestinians from returning to the negotiating table so diligently promoted by United State’s Secretary of State John Kerry in the past few weeks. Indeed, it discredits the role of the EU as a member of the Quartet, which was established for the fostering of that peace process.”

He added: “Above all, it encourages the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement designed to de-legitimize the State of Israel. These guidelines and other measures singling out the Jewish State are redolent of the 1930’s Nazi boycott of the Jews throughout the Reich under the slogan ‘Kaufen Nicht bei Juden’ (buy not from Jews) which was the prelude to the Holocaust.”

Samuels called on Lamy to direct the WTO to do its job, and defend free trade for all nations, including Israel, a WTO member country.

“The World Trade Organisation, of which Israel is a member state and, to which the EU is linked through the European Economic Area (the EU and the 3 EFTA countries) has established Rules of Trade between Nations and Co-operation with other International Organizations…as the International Organisation, whose primary purpose is to open trade for the benefit of all.”

The WTO Mission Statement says its “founding and guiding principles remain the pursuit of open borders…non-discriminatory treatment by and among members…(to) encourage and contribute to sustainable development, raise people’s welfare, reduce poverty and foster peace and stability … The WTO stands for lowering trade barriers…(to) end measures such as import bans and quotas that restrict quantities selectively.”

Samuels argued that “such treatment of the territories in question violate UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, by which they are recognized as disputed, resulting from an armed conflict that, in 1948, left armistice lines and, in 1967, cease-fire lines between Israel and Jordan subject to negotiation for a peace agreement to end the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

The letter suggested that “were these provisions to have simply designated anonymous ‘occupied territories’, this might have left the matter open to definition as to whether the target was the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus or the Chinese in Tibet. These actions are, sadly, unambiguous: ‘buy not from the Jewish State’, in a continent that should have learned from its history.”

“The WTO’s silence on this matter would not be consonant with its aforementioned Mission Statement,” Samuels said.

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