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Occupied territories

05.11.2019 - Article

The Arab-Israeli conflict has given rise to the following special circumstances:

The Palestinian territories (East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza) and the Golan Heights have been occupied by Israel since 1967. The German Government makes a strict distinction between the territory of the State of Israel and the occupied territories. The Israeli Government distinguishes between the territories that are under Israeli jurisdiction (the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem ,which according to Israeli law are through annexation an integral part of Israel and under its full sovereignty), and the non-annexed territories (the West Bank and Gaza).

Settlements

It is the long-standing position of the European Union and its member states not to recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders that have not been agreed upon by the parties to the conflict. The German Government also takes the view that Israeli settlements in the occupied territories represent a violation of international law, an obstacle to peace and a threat to the fundamentals of a two-state solution.

There are therefore considerable risks associated with economic and financial activities in and for the benefit of settlements. Financial transactions, investment, purchasing and procurement as well as other economic activities (including tourism and other areas of the service sector) in or for the benefit of Israeli settlements give rise to legal and economic risks due to the fact that, from the point of view of international law, Israeli settlements have been built on occupied territory that is not recognised as a legitimate part of Israel’s national territory. German companies and private individuals should also be aware of the reputational risks associated with economic and financial activities in and for the benefit of settlements. The German Government further points to potential violations of international humanitarian law and human rights conventions in connection with settlements in the occupied territories.

For reasons of consumer protection, products made in settlements are not allowed to bear the mark of origin “Israel” in the European Union.

Interpretative Notice of the European Commission

Preferential tariff treatment

Goods produced in Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories or the Golan Heights are not granted preferential treatment within the scope of the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the European Communities and their member states on the one hand and the State of Israel on the other (EC-Israel Association Agreement) because they do not originate in Israel. However, there are no specific restrictions on the import of goods. This was confirmed in a ruling of 25 February 2010 by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in a preliminary ruling. This case concerned goods which had been produced in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

CJEU press release on the Brita ruling

Property acquisition and investment activity

When acquiring ownership and making investments in the occupied territories, especially in the Israeli settlements, it should be noted that any future Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement could have repercussions. Among other things, disputes about the acquisition of land, water, mineral and other natural resources could arise. The Federal Foreign Office does not intervene in disputes of this kind.

The German Government supports projects and project partners in publicly funded programmes only in cases where they are located within the territory that was under Israeli jurisdiction prior to 5 June 1967. This practice is in line with EU directives on cooperation with Israel.

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