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EU denies preferences to products from Israeli settlements

Dr Lorand Bartels is University Lecturer in Law, University of Cambridge. His publications include Human Rights Conditionality in the EU’s International Agreements (2005, OUP) and Regional Trade Agreements and the WTO (co edited with F. Ortino, 2006, OUP) The European Court of Justice decided an interesting case last week (Case C-386/08, Brita, 25 February 2010). The Hauptzollamt Hamburg-Hafen (the main customs office of the port of Hamburg) had refused to give preferential treatment under the EC-Israel Association Agreement to products manufactured by an Israeli company in the West Bank.The judgment gives the following facts: 32. The German customs authorities provisionally granted the preferential tariff applied for, but commenced the procedure for subsequent verification. On being questioned by the German customs authorities, the Israeli customs authorities replied that ‘[o]ur verification has proven that the goods in question originate in an area that is under Israeli Customs responsibility. As such, they are originating products pursuant to the [EC-Israel] Association Agreement and are entitled to preferential…

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Goldstone Report on Gaza: A Question of Trust

I have just skimmed through the Goldstone Fact-Finding Mission’s Report on Gaza that was released yesterday. It is a beast at almost 600 pages, so I was necessarily more quick than thorough. All in all, my impression of the Report is that it is balanced, corroborated and credible. But this is, mind you, no more than an impression. I…

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The Wikipedia Approach to Reality

I was reading the news today, and was again struck for the umpteenth time by the ease with which people slip into what I now like to call the Wikipedia approach to reality - a phenomenon that I'm sure psychologists have defined in a much more sophisticated way as some form of cognitive bias or another. Take a look at…

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US Appeals Court holds that Former Foreign Officials Entitled to Immunity in Civil Suit alleging War Crimes

The Second Circuit of the US Court of Appeals has recently (April 16, 09) held  in Matar v. Dichter that the former head of the Israeli General Security Service is immune in a civil suit brought under the US Aliens Tort Claims Act (28 USC  § 1350) alleging war crimes and extrajudicial killing. The suit relates to Dichter's participation…

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Is Gaza Still Occupied by Israel?

While the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas was still ongoing, I was wary of commenting on what is a very contentious legal issue - whether Gaza is still to be considered as occupied as a matter of international humanitarian law, even after Israel's unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005. I was wary of doing so primarily because the issue…

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