Spain, Italy warn against investing in Israeli settlements
The Italian Foreign Minister Frederico Mogherini told Italians on Friday “not to get involved in financial activity and investments” in settlements in the West Bank, Italian media reported.
France, Germany and Britain have already issued similar advisories, as the international community regards all Israeli settlements built on occupied land as illegal.
The Italian announcement comes after Spain issued a similar warning on Thursday. An announcement on the Spanish foreign ministry website cited European Union policy, which deems all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and Golan, illegal.The statement said these settlements “constitute an obstacle to peace” and hinder trying to achieve a two-state solution to end the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
“The potential buyers and investors should know that a future peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians or between Israel and Syria could have consequences both for properties acquired and for economic activities promoted in said settlements. In case of litigation, it could be very difficult for member states to guarantee the protection of their interests,” the Spanish statement said.
A spokesman for the Spanish foreign ministry insisted that his government is not calling for a boycott on Israel.
“The statement is not intended as a call for a boycott in any way, or to limit economic cooperation between Spain and Israel within its internationally-recognized borders,” Carlos Entrena Moratiel, told JTA, an international Jewish news agency.
France posted a statement on its foreign ministry website on Thursday explaining that French citizens who go ahead with investments in the occupied territories should seek legal advice before proceeding.
The toughening of rhetoric from Europe has in part come about because of the collapse of Israeli Palestinian peace talks in April.
Israel does not believe settlements in the West Bank are illegal and considers all of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights to be part of its territory. Just on June 5, some 1,500 tenders were issued for new settlement housing units. The Housing Ministry explained the move as a response to Palestine forming a unity government which included Hamas.
Ten days later after the tender was published, Israel’s Foreign Ministry asked its ambassadors across the EU to contact European foreign ministries, asking them to refrain from issuing the warnings against associating with settlement businesses. In January, similar calls were made with Israel accusing the EU ofa “one-sided stance” against the Jewish state.