Thursday, November 12, 2015

Other occupied territories?

Re: European moves to label goods that are produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a host of other Israeli leaders denounced the move as hypocritical because no such labels were proposed for products from occupied territories elsewhere in the world[.]
I'm kind of curious what other occupied territories he is thinking of.

UPDATE: Okay, I should have googled around before I hit the "post button."  It looks like Israeli officials are primarily pointing to Western Sahara. Which is a little odd, because Israel has not taken a side on the status of Western Sahara. Actually, the EU also has not deemed Western Sahara's situation to be an illegal occupation, but the EU and most (if not all) of its member states have officially considered the Israel's settlements to be illegal. So that alone would justify the different treatment.

Plus there's just the matter of scope. I don't think Western Sahara produces all that many goods for sale in the EU. Western Sahara only exports $243k worth of goods to Europe. That includes all of Europe, not just the EU countries--the third largest European country that Western Sahara imports go to is Ukraine (4.1% of that $243k), which is not an EU member.

By contrast, Israel (including the occupied territories, but not Palestinian governed areas of the West Bank) exports $18.6 billion to the continent of Europe (again, including both EU and non-EU countries). I had more difficulty finding reliable figures for how much trade with Europe or the EU originates just from the Israeli occupied West Bank. This article says that Israel's economic ministry estimates the EU's labeling rule would affect $50 million per year. If that figure is accurate there are more than times as much value imported into the EU from the Israeli occupied territories as there are from the Moroccan occupied territories. Again, that seems like a meaningful difference to me.