EU official: Labeling of settlement goods to begin in October

If Israel continues expansion of settlements over the Green Line, "the marking of products will just be the beginning," European Union official tells Army Radio.

September 21, 2015 09:28
2 minute read.
Jewish settlement

A section of the controversial Israeli barrier is seen close to a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem . (photo credit: REUTERS)

A senior European Union official told Army Radio on Monday that labeling of products manufactured in Israeli settlements in the West Bank will begin effective October 1.

According to the official, the EU was set to finalize by mid-October remaining legal and technical issues regarding the settlement labeling, such as how exactly to mark the products and how to execute the process.

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The settlement labeling proposal has been slowly moving through the cumbersome EU bureaucracy for years, but received a push earlier this year when the foreign ministers of 16 countries – including France, Britain and Italy, but not Germany – sent a letter to EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini urging her to promote the measure.

The official added that Brussels will consider further punitive measures if the Israeli government announces plans for more construction beyond the Green Line in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

"If this is the case, we will continue with moves against settlement expansion, and the marking of products will just be the beginning," he told the radio station.

While the European official noted that the EU lauded factories that have left the West Bank, he acknowledged that the departures of such enterprises results in the loss of jobs for Palestinian workers.

However, he said that the employment implications for residents of Jewish settlements would create less incentive to live in those areas.

Earlier in September, the long-simmering European threat to specially label products from the settlements moved another step forward toward implementation when the European Parliament backed the move in a non-binding resolution on the Mideast that passed overwhelmingly.

According to diplomatic officials in Jerusalem, Israel adamantly opposes plans to label goods produced beyond the Green Line.

Israel, according to diplomatic officials, has charged that labeling products from the settlements discriminated unfairly against Israel, since the EU does not have a similar policy toward other disputed areas around the world, including northern Cyprus or the western Sahara.

Meanwhile on Monday, opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) criticized the EU's plans as a " dangerous and grave" threat.

"Whomever wants peace or security in the region needs to engage in advancing dialogue and initiatives - not threats and boycotts," he underlined in a meeting with Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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