Prominent U.K. Jurist Says Boycott of West Bank Settlement Products Is Legal

In his paper, James Crawford says that the ban was legal as the West Bank can not be seen as a part of Israel.

A prominent U.K. legal expert recently released a report stating that the European Union would be within its legal rights if it chose to ban products made in West Bank settlements, British newspaper the Independent reported on Monday.

James Crawford, Whewell Professor of International Law at the University of Cambridge, presented a 60-page opinion to senior officials of EU member states in the past few months according to which the states were within their legal rights to ban the import of produce from West Bank settlements according to European and international law.

Crawford's paper argues that member states acting to ban settlement produce could do so under the EU-Israel Association Agreement provision, stipulating that the agreement "shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles."

He further argues that banning trade with the settlements isn't a breach of World Trade Organization agreements because "as a matter of international law, the West Bank and Gaza cannot be considered to be Israel's territory."

The Trades Union Congress, which has been calling for a boycott of settlement produce but has opposed, banning trade with Israel, will publish the paper this week.

While the Independent quoted Crawford's paper as writing "There do not appear to be any EC laws which could be breached by a member state taking the decision to ban the import of settlement produce on public policy grounds." It does reject arguments that EU member states are obliged to enforce a ban on settlement produce.

On Friday, the Presbyterian General Assembly voted in favor of boycotting goods made in settlements in Israel, but narrowly voted against divesting holdings in three multinationals that do business in the settlements.

The assembly also voted in favor of a recommendation creating an option for individual pension-savers not to invest in Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett Packard stock, as "choice of conscience" - to be voted on at the next General Assembly in 2014.