Wiesenthal Centre to World Trade Organisation "Condemn EU for Discriminatory and Anti Free-Trade Measures Against your Member State, Israel"

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"Press Brussels to announce their cancellation forthwith".

Paris, 19 July 2013

In a letter to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director General Pascal Lamy, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, drew attention to the "just announced European Union guidelines that 'ban EU funding of Israeli institutions operating in territories occupied since the 1967 Middle East War' to take effect on 1 January 2014".

The letter viewed "this announcement as another building block of an EU discriminatory policy against the State of Israel, that includes labelling of products from Israeli communities on the West Bank and other hostile acts".

Samuels argued that "such treatment of the territories in question violate UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, by which they are recognised 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 Centre noted that "the World Trade Organisation (WTO), 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 Organisations",..."as the International Organisation, whose primary purpose is to open trade for the benefit of all the Mission Statement also highlights that "the WTO's 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 emphasised that "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 that, "above all, it encourages the international BDS (Boycott, Divestment 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".

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 Centre called upon the World Trade Organisation "to condemn the European Union for these discriminatory and anti free-trade measures against one of your member-states. Our Centre urges the WTO to press Brussels to announce their cancellation forthwith".

"The WTO's silence on this matter would not be consonant with its aforementioned Mission Statement", concluded Samuels.

For further information please contact Shimon Samuels on 00(33)609770158