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EU's Mogherini says boycotting Israel falls under 'freedom of expression'

EU's High representative for foreign affairs and security policy Federica Mogherini arrives for an European Union leaders summit on October 20, 2016
Thierry Charlier (AFP/File)
She stressed that the EU "is opposed to any boycott of Israel"

The European Union's diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini has said that decisions by EU member countries to boycott Israel are protected as "freedom of expression" under the the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Mogherini's statement came in response to an inquiry from an Irish member of the European Parliament which was submitted last month.

In her response, Mogherini said that "The EU stands firm in protecting freedom of expression and freedom of association in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which is applicable on EU Member States' territory, including with regard to BDS actions carried out on this territory."

"Freedom of expression, as underlined by the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, is also applicable to information or ideas ‘that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population’," she continued.

However, she stressed, "The EU rejects the BDS campaign's attempts to isolate Israel and is opposed to any boycott of Israel."

Israel has accused the EU of supporting a number of "anti-Semitic" moves which it fears will encourage a boycott campaign against the country, such as the EU decision to label goods imported from Jewish settlements.

One such boycott movement, the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) campaign is a coalition of organizations inspired by the anti-apartheid movement who say they are using nonviolent means to promote the Palestinian struggle for independence and encourage international economic and political pressure against Israel.

According to the Times of Israel news site, a senior member of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, Riya Hassan welcomed Mogherini's statement, saying that “We welcome the EU’s belated defense of the right of European and other citizens to stand in solidarity with Palestinian rights, including through BDS tactics."

In her statement Mogherini also addressed the treatment of human rights groups and called on both Israel and the Palestinians to curb hate speech.

"The EU firmly condemns threats and violence against human rights defenders under all circumstances," she said.

"The EU regularly raises questions related to the protection of human rights and human rights defenders in its dialogue with the Israeli authorities, and calls on both Israel and the Palestinians to refrain from provocation and to resolutely fight incitement and hate speech."

The statement published on the European Parliament website is dated to September 15, but was only published recently.

Comments

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"the EU decision to label goods imported from Jewish settlements" The decision was taken because the settlements are deemed to be illegal. If only Jews live in these settlements that is by the by. Perhaps non-Jews are not allowed to live in them. The claim that the move is antisemitic is the usual ridiculous 'anything against me is a crime'.

Why no boycott against China Michael? Or Western Sahara? Turkey? FYI, non Jews live in the settlements too. And what's wrong with Jews living in a future Palestinian state anyway? Again, you Michael are the last person who should be dictating what should/shouldn't be classified as antisemitism. In fact, the EU are in violation of their own definition!

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