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No Special Treatment for Jewish Settlement Goods

(CN) - Europe's high court ruled that Israeli products manufactured in the West Bank and Gaza Strip might not qualify for duty-free import under two trade agreements.

A special trade treaty governs products from Israel, while another treaty with the Palestinian authority regulates trade from the disputed territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Court of Justice explained.

The ruling stems from German company Brita's attempt to secure the duty-free import of drink supplies from a West Bank factory run by Soda-Club, a company based in Israel.

German customs authorities refused to grant special trade treatment after suspecting that the products originated in occupied territories, and after Israeli export officials declined to confirm their exact origin.

Brita filed suit against Hamburg customs office in 2006, seeking entitlement for the special treatment.

The Court of Justice noted that the European Union has not recognized Israeli authority over disputed zones since 1967, when the Six-Day War resulted in Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The EU recognizes only a United Nations partition plan for Palestine from 1947.

Exporting states are bound under trade treaties to provide information on the origin of incoming products. Since the Israeli government has not done so, the German import authorities can refuse to grant the special tariff exemptions, the court concluded.

The ruling is in line with an advocate general opinion from last year.

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