The European Commission's decision to label products from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is the latest step by the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, established in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 2005.
The Nov. 11 EU decision is the result of the combined efforts of different groups, including Palestinians in Europe. Palestinian institutions — such as the Palestinian Assembly in Germany, the Coordinating Council to support Palestine in Austria, the Palestinian Justice Centre in Sweden, the Palestinian Forum in Belgium and others — are still working to strengthen ties with EU decision-making circles, be they the European Parliament, universities or others.
There were many efforts to boycott Israel on the academic and cultural levels in Europe in 2015. The UK's National Union of Students — which numbers about 7 million — called for a boycott of Israel on June 3, while some concerts by European artists scheduled to be held in Israel were canceled, such as Norwegian singer Moddi's show in January 2014.
On the economic level, the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics announced in June that Israel's economy had incurred losses of about $6 billion in 2013 and 2014 as a result of the European boycott of agricultural products from Israeli settlements, and this figure is expected to reach $9.5 billion by the end of 2015.
The BDS movement has increased its activities in recent months. The American Anthropologists Association voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions on Nov 22, and on Oct. 27, 343 British academics representing 72 British universities and academic institutions signed a petition to boycott Israel.
The BDS movement in Europe has started to embarrass and confuse Israelis at the cultural, intellectual and academic levels. The Israeli government is working to stop the movement from expanding into additional academic and economic sectors.
The Israeli government first announced in June 2013 that the BDS movement represents a strategic threat to Israel. In April 2015, the Israeli Supreme Court ratified the “boycott law,” which entails legal prosecution, demands compensation from each person who calls for boycotting Israel and imposes significant economic sanctions on Israeli institutions that call for the boycott.
The outreach activities conducted by Palestinians in Europe can be considered successful. For example, in May 2015, Swiss activists spoke out against the Swiss purchase of Israeli drones on May 26, and before that on May 17, a number of famous personalities and international authors such as Noam Chomsky, Richard Falk and Salman Abu Sitta called for the suspension of the Israeli Football Association's FIFA and UEFA memberships.
Campaigns in Britain have called for the academic boycott of Israeli universities, institutes and academic events through public petitions and press releases, most of which are organised by British academics.
Palestinians believe that while Israel's military superiority gives Israel an advantage on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territories, to a lesser extent, Israel seems unable to confront Palestinians carrying out boycott campaigns against Israel within Europe.
On 23 November 2019, EuroPal Forum and Middle East Monitor co-hosted a conference at the Holiday Inn Bloomsbury in London on the relations between Europe and Palestine. A first of its kind, the conference brought together individuals at the forefront of discourse on Palestine in
As the European Court of Justice (ECJ) rules that European Union countries must identify products made in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, MEMO and EuroPal Forum are hosting a conference to discuss the EU’s position on major issues related to the occupat