The Coalition of Women for Peace in Israel - Open Letter to Members of the European Parliament Committee on International Trade
Dear Committee Members,
We at the Coalition of Women for Peace in Israel call upon you to vote against signing the ACAA Protocol (Protocol on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products) attached to the EU-Israel Association Agreement. This agreement facilitates the entrance of Israeli products, and particularly pharmaceutical products, to European markets, without additional testing or conformity to assessment procedures.
Our main concern with regard to Israeli pharmaceutical products is detailed in our most recently published report Captive Economy: The Pharmaceutical Industry and the Israeli Occupation. The report concludes that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT)) are a captive market for Israeli and international drug companies, and this situation has grave ramifications for the occupied population.
Let us briefly note a few examples:
• The Israeli Ministry of Health allows only the import of drugs registered in Israel to the OPT, consequently blocking the neighboring Arab countries and other exporters of cheap generic pharmaceuticals such as China, India and former Soviet Union states.
• The most important Palestinian medical institutions, located in East Jerusalem, are obliged to purchase goods produced by the occupier (Israel), due to Israel's illegal annexation of East Jerusalem under international law and its refusal to allow Palestinian pharmaceuticals into East Jerusalem hospitals and pharmacies.
• Israeli companies can sell their products in the OPT tax free and without special inspections or permits, while Palestinian manufacturers cannot sell products in Israel and are often unable to export to Europe due to draconian security procedures at checkpoints.
• Drugs can be imported to the Gaza Strip, which is under strict closure, but no pharmaceutical product is allowed out of the strip. Hence, all expired products are left to the care of the receiving health institutions in Gaza. This presents a heavy burden that requires expensive professional solutions, including toxic waste dump stations and qualified personnel.
In short, Israel’s control over the Palestinian market renders the development of an independent pharmaceutical industry there impossible. Even more disturbing is the fact that this imposition has grave consequences for the occupied population. Palestinians are forced to absorb the unnecessarily high costs of Israeli drugs and its waste management, and this situation severely undermines the availability of health care in the OPT.
Based on extensive research, our conclusion is that Israel should not be rewarded with easy access to European markets for its pharmaceutical products when as an occupying power it imposes draconian restrictions, which allow its pharmaceutical companies to reap profit from its occupation. A vote against the ACAA Protocol would send a strong message of EU disapproval of Israel’s occupation policies. A vote in favor of the protocol, on the other hand, would stand in stark contradiction to the 2009 EU decision to freeze the upgrade and ignore the principle of positive conditionality that should stand at the heart of EU-Israel relations.
Esteemed committee members, your individual votes count -- be they in favor of more profit to companies benefiting from an illegal occupation, or in favor of corporate social responsibility and respect for human rights and international humanitarian law