This article has been written by Ethan Wilkinson, Accredited Parliamentary Assistant to Nathan Gill MEP.

This morning I attended an event entitled “Israel and the ‘West Bank’ – Facts and Myths” on behalf of Nathan Gill MEP. The event was organised by the Group of Friends of Judea and Samaria in the European Parliament.

Judea and Samaria is the Israeli name for the disputed territory in the West Bank (between Israel and Jordan) and is divided into three zones:

  1. Zone A is under the full administration of the Palestinian Authority
  2. Zone B is under joint Israeli-Palestinian control
  3. Zone C is under Israeli control

Zones A and B, along with the Gaza Strip, have duty-free access to the EU Single Market, whilst Zone C pay high tariffs to export their goods to the Single Market.

It appears that there is an anti-Semitic attitude at the highest levels of EU governance, as Palestinian goods are free from tariffs and quotes, whereas Jewish goods (from Zone C) are subject to high tariffs. This informal working group of the EU Parliament is seeking to eliminate this clear discrimination on Israeli goods.

This working group also has the aim of stopping funds being transferred from the EU Commission to the Palestinian Authority, as this money is misused and directed to terrorist activity funds.

The conference was attended by a 14 year old girl called Ayala Shapira and her mother Ruth Shapira. Ayala was 11 when a Molotov cocktail bomb, which was thrown by a 16 year old Palestinian, hit the car that Ayala and her father were travelling in. They managed to escape the burning vehicle and make it to safety, but this terrorist attack resulted in Ayala suffering third-degree burns and being hospitalised for 8 months.

She gave a brave account of her experience and her hopes and wishes for the future, and here desire to see unity and peace in her country. It was a very inspiring account of the great work being done in the Judea and Samaria region, spearheaded by Mr Yossi Dagan, the Chairman of the Shomron Regional Council.

I was very impressed with the Regional Council’s attitude to the complex Israel-Palestine situation and their belief that barriers of hate and fear need to be broken down. The Regional Council is encouraging businesses and entrepreneurs to increase social cohesion, with the view that economics is currently the most realistic medium for peace in the region.

If this is true, then the EU’s inherent discriminatory suspicion towards Israel will do nothing to encourage peace, as these tariffs on Jewish goods are evidence of direct discrimination. This is evidence of double standards on the part of the EU: in the EU’s own territory there are disputed territories; Cyprus and Crimea to just name a few, but there are no special, extortionate tariffs applied to these regions.

As the UK rescinds its membership of the EU’s Single Market and seeks to negotiate a new trading relationship built on access to the Single Market, it’s important that British politicians and businesses offer their advice and expertise to government and business leaders in Judea and Samaria, so that they too can benefit from access to the EU’s Single Market.

You can find out more information about the working group here.