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Oslo City Council Ponders Boycott of Products, Services From Israeli Settlements

© REUTERS / Ammar AwadHouses are seen atop a hill in the Israeli settlement of Givat Ze'ev, in the occupied West Bank February 7, 2017
Houses are seen atop a hill in the Israeli settlement of Givat Ze'ev, in the occupied West Bank February 7, 2017 - Sputnik International
According to the Norwegian backers of the boycott, it will contribute to “lasting peace and the freedom of the Palestinians”.

In a historic step, Oslo’s newly installed “red-green” City Council led by the Socialist Left, Labour and the Greens, is contemplating a ban on the municipality's procurement of goods and services from Israeli settlements.

This is part of their cooperation platform for 2019-2023, the three left-of-centre parties intend to “investigate the extent of trade regulations that exist in order not to procure goods and services produced in an area occupied in violation of international law by companies operating under the permission of the occupying power”.

“The Palestinian people have been living under illegal occupation for over 50 years. It is a shared global responsibility to contribute to lasting peace and the freedom of the Palestinians, which is why I am pleased that the City Council is now considering the possibility of actively using its purchasing power against the occupation”, Socialist Left group leader Sunniva Holmås Eidsvoll said, as quoted by the newspaper Nettavisen.

​Oslo's move was lauded by the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), which works for businesses to remove investments from Israel.

“We welcome this legally and morally responsible step taken by the Oslo City Council. Local councils are showing they are undeterred by repression, and continue to pave the way, despite inaction by national governments. A ban on goods and services from Israel’s illegal settlements is the very least that government institutions should enact to cut their complicity with Israel’s regime of apartheid, settler colonialism, and occupation”, Alys Samson Estapé, Europe campaigns coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), said.

He added that on top of such a ban, the Norwegian government should also adopt a comprehensive embargo on direct and indirect arms trade and military cooperation with Israel and Israeli companies to ensure end-user compliance with international law.

However, in a recent state budget proposal, the Norwegian government declared that it wouldn't support organisations that promote boycotts, investment stops and sanctions on Israel, polarising Norwegian parties. While the Christian Democrats stressed it was important to have a “balanced Middle East policy” and reject initiatives that “complicate the peace process or promote a boycott of Israel”, the Reds, who have nominated the BDS for the Nobel Peace Prize, accused the government of “pandering to Israel”, the news outlet ABC Nyheter reported. According to Reds leader Bjørnar Moxnes, the BDS is not anti-Semitic at all.

BDS describes itself as a Palestinian-led non-violent movement inspired by South Africa's anti-apartheid movement. Its stated goal is to put pressure on Israel to comply with UN resolutions and push it back to its 1967 borders.

Israel and its allies, however, believe BDS goes beyond fighting the occupation and accuse the movement of anti-Semitism and for pushing to delegitimise and destroy the Jewish state.

Some 27 of the US's 50 states have passed laws that prohibit or impede the BDS campaign. Earlier this year, German and Czech officials condemned the campaign.

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