Chilean lawmakers seek to sanction imports from Israeli settlements in Palestine

By Andrea Aguilar Cordoba

SANTIAGO, Chile (AA) – Wearing the traditional Palestinian headscarf, Chilean deputies from 12 parties have recently drafted a bill that seeks to sanction merchandise, goods and services imports from Israeli colonies in occupied Palestinian territories, considered illegal by international law.

The action by parliament is in response to the escalation of violence in which more than 250 Palestinians were killed in May by Israel, and after a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report indicated that there are crimes against humanity, apartheid and persecution in occupied territories.

“This report recommends that the UN member states be able to take action in this regard. It is evident that, like Chile, we can give clear signals that what is happening in Palestinian territory are abhorrent crimes against humanity and we cannot be immune to that,” Sergio Gahona, deputy of the Independent Democratic Union party and author of the project, told Anadolu Agency.

Gahona said that Chile cannot stop a war, but as a country it can give clear signals that what is happening in Palestinian territories are crimes against humanity.

In addition, the bill highlights that HRW recommended a review of cooperation agreements and all other forms of trade. That is why they consider it a show of support to present the bill that also includes criminal sanctions for the importer who violates the established prohibition.

-Legislative support for Palestinian cause

The Palestinian cause has been endorsed across the board by the Chilean legislature for decades, given the influence of the Palestinian community living in the country, with nearly half a million people, is the largest Palestinian group outside the Middle East.

From parties of the traditional Chilean left, such as the Communist Party, to parties of the conservative right, including the Independent Democratic Union, they have supported resolutions in favor of ending the occupation and expressed their rejection of the violation of human rights by Israeli forces.

“In Chile, Palestine gathers people from different political sectors. Many of us come from a Palestinian family, as in my case, that my mother is Palestinian and my father is Chilean. And it is because of our commitment to unrestricted respect for human rights, and that is why we want to establish that our country does not allow the commercialization of products that are manufactured in militarily occupied territories and illegally, in accordance with international law," deputy Jorge Brito told Anadolu Agency.

The legislator of the leftist Democratic Revolution party points out that there are currently more than 80 Israeli settlements in Palestine that extract natural resources or manufacture products in the same place where soldiers point weapons and detain and torture Palestinian children, adolescents and families. "Many times in our country we are asked what we can do to collaborate in peace and we precisely believe that this measure is moving in the right direction and I hope that it can be law promptly," he said.

For his part, the former president of the chamber, Ivan Flores, assured that Israel has systematically disregarded more than 40 UN resolutions that account for illegal occupations of Palestine where the population is expelled from lands they have occupied for centuries to install factories and export Israeli products to the world.

"If the United Nations has not been able to enforce international law, what we are asking is to forbid the entry to Chile of products that come from factories that have been installed in territories illegally usurped from Palestinian families," Flores said during the presentation of the bill.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet published a database in 2019, which registered 206 companies linked to activities in Israeli colonies in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and points out that those companies play a central role in consolidating the establishment and expansion of Israeli settlements.

With the bill, Chile joins other initiatives such as those currently being processed in Ireland and the European Union, which require different labeling for products that come from Jewish colonies in occupied territories amid escalating violence that triggered an investigation by the UN Human Rights Council into possible war crimes allegedly committed by the Israeli army during 11 days of bombing in the Gaza Strip.

*Maria Paula Trivino contributed to this story