Oslo should not go from peace to boycott

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We strongly condemn the Oslo City Council’s plan to implement a boycott of Israeli settlements. Many Israelis already have negative associations to “Oslo”, because more than fourteen hundred Israelis have been killed in Palestinian terror, violence and war after the so-called “Oslo peace process” started. A boycott by the municipality of Oslo will be the last confirmation that Oslo has given up on peace and coexistence. Instead the city is giving a hand to radical Islamic and Arab nationalistic forces that want to see the only Jewish state in the world eradicated.

Many Jews in Oslo are already hiding their identity, and antisemitic incidents and threats against Jews are often caused by anti-Israel motives. A boycott by the Oslo City Council will be welcomed by the forces in Norway that are the greatest threats to Jewish life: Right- and left wing extremists and radical Islamists. There is no other minority group in Oslo that experience more intimidation in schools than the Jews. A boycott by the city of Oslo will surely give a new green light to the bullies.

We emphasize that there is no basis in international law to deny economic activity in occupied or disputed areas, and that this has been confirmed by European courts several times. There is a long list of disputed territories in the world, including with settlers, but statements from the parties in the newly elected Oslo City Council indicate that they plan to target their boycott only against Jews living in the eastern part of Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Jews have tasted this hideous form of discrimination in Europe and Oslo before. It would be wrong not to condemn it.

We remind the Oslo City Council that there is already in place a very extensive “counter-boycott” legislation in the world’s largest economy, the USA. That country is imposing serious liabilities and sanctions against those that participate in a boycott of Israeli businesses, including Israeli businesses operating in Jerusalem and the West Bank. AirBnB reversed its decision to remove rental listings of homes located inside Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Not only is Oslo’s economy in grave danger of being hurt by an adoption of boycott, but a large number of Palestinians working for Israeli businesses in the West Bank will surely be hurt. As of May 2019, 32.210 Palestinians work in industrial zones in Israeli administered parts of the West Bank (Area C), according to information provided by Israeli government officials.

We would also like to remind the Oslo city council that the Norwegian Foreign Ministry in a letter dated 10.01.2006 stated that Norway and Israel have entered an agreement of free trade referring to the WTO agreement on official procurements. This agreement covers procurements done on the level of county and municipality and they have an obligation to admit Israeli suppliers to compete in accordance with the rules of the agreement. A boycott of Israeli suppliers is therefor considered to be in violation of Norwegian commitments according to international law.

 

Sources

Economic Dealings with Occupied Territories by Eugene Kontorovich

Airbnb reverses ban on West Bank settlement listings (BBC)

Written Submission to the Oireachtas Select Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade and Defence regarding the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 (Ireland Israel Alliance)