EU-Israel Trade Agreement
By Deborah Newton-Cook
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats
"ACAA". Well acronyms figure large in the European Union, and the extension of the EU's trade agreement to cover pharmaceutical products has been the subject of wrangling for several years. On 23 October in Strasbourg when it came up for a final vote, it really exploded. The issue sounds innocent enough, but when you scratch the surface you find out that there was an awful lot more at stake.
The real argument was about the import of Israeli goods manufactured from factories built on the occupied Palestinian Territories (oPT). These are the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Under international law, all non Palestinian produced goods - from fruit to on this occasion, pharmaceutical products - are not allowed to be imported into the EU. The oPT is defined as the territory that the Palestinians had before the the 6 day war and recognised by the 1967 Green Line. This territory is recognised internationally and should form a Palestinian State as part of a two state solution with a Palestinian State living peacefully by the side of an Israeli State. However, this is still a long way off.
Since 1967, the Israeli government has been annexing Palestinian land by building illegal settlements, including pharmaceutical factories. Under international and European law these products are not allowed to be exported to the EU.
If you would like to watch what was a passionate debate you can do so here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/rss/video/debates-plenary/en.xml
For the record, eight of our Liberal Democrat MEPs voted against the agreement, and three voted in favour. It was adopted.