Chilean congress draft bill banning imports from Israeli settlements

Chilean congress draft bill banning imports from Israeli settlements
Building on previous strides by Chilean lawmakers to apply economic pressure on Israel to end its violations of international law, Santiago’s lower house has drafted a bill to ban goods and services from Israeli settlements.
2 min read
04 June, 2021
Chile hosts one of the largest Palestinian diasporas outside of the Middle East [Getty]

Chile's congress has drafted a bill to boycott goods and services from Israeli settlements built in the occupied Palestinian territories, local media reported on Thursday.

The legislation builds on previous moves by Chilean lawmakers in support of Palestinian rights and struggle for self-determination. It also comes following the latest campaign of deadly Israeli violence against Palestinians, including the bombardment of Gaza, which killed over 250 Palestinians, including 67 children.

The bill, drafted by pro-Palestinian parliamentary group in the lower house of Chile's legislature, seeks to criminalise the import of products and services from "illegal settlements in occupied territories", in line with international law. 

While the bill does not name Israel directly, Sergio Gahona – the parliamentarian heading the initiative – announced it while donning a Kufiyeh, a traditional Palestinian headdress.

Violators will face fines five times the customs value of the imported goods.

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The move prompted criticism from pro-Israel group in the Latin American country. The Chilean Community of Israel said it was not surprised by the presentation of the BDS bill, which they labelled anti-semitic, a common charge levelled against the non-violent protest movement, which it strenuously denies.  

BDS, which was launched in 2005 by 170 civil society organisations with the aim of pressuring Israel, has led large corporations to end business dealings and activities with Israeli entities operating in the occupied West Bank.

Chile, which hosts one of the largest Palestinian diasporas outside of the Middle East, has seen lawmakers take strides to confront Israel’s violations of international law in recent years.

In 2018, the national congress voted 99-7 to approve a resolution banning products from Israeli settlements. Two years later, the Chilean senate adopted a similar resolution calling of President Sebastian Pinera to implement such a ban.

Yet there is a long history of partnership between Chile and Israel at the governmental level, particularly in the military sphere, with the two countries signing a agreement to bolster cooperation in 2018. 

Analysts have compared methods and tactics deployed by Chilean forces’ against demonstrators protesting against widespread corruption and poverty with Israel forces brutal crackdown of Palestinians protesting the Israeli occupation and violence.