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Israel: Overseas Trade

Volume 497: debated on Monday 12 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps to introduce legislation to ensure that companies operating out of illegal Israeli settlements cannot trade in the United Kingdom. (289631)

We are clear that settlement construction is a violation of international law and so we will continue to press the Israeli Government immediately to freeze all settlement activity. But we have no plans to introduce legislation on the subject.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps he has taken to ensure that Government departments and agencies do not make purchases from illegal Israeli settlements. (289632)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not have explicit policy precluding the purchase of goods emanating from the settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. However, in practice the FCO in London and FCO posts seek to avoid purchase of goods from settlements. A recent example of this is when our Embassy in Tel Aviv stopped negotiations to lease premises in Africa-Israel’s Kirya Tower when the company was unable to give assurances that it and its subsidiaries were not involved in settlement construction or support for settler organisations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with HM Treasury on the legality of collecting customs duties on exports from illegal Israeli settlements. (289633)

Our officials continue to have discussions with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), regarding the import of goods from Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs), especially consignments originating from illegal Israeli settlements.

Products from Israeli settlements in the OPTs are not prohibited by the law in the UK. However, in accordance with the EU-Israel Association Agreement, HMRC continue to ensure that all consignments originating from illegal Israeli settlements do not benefit from preferential EU tariff rates.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to discourage UK nationals from buying properties in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. (289634)

The UK’s position has been consistently robust—settlements are illegal, they are a clear violation of international law. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s travel advice clearly outlines the UK position and that potential purchasers should be aware that a future peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, or between Israel and Syria, could have consequences for property purchased in these settlements.