The German government has given its tacit approval of European Union
efforts to label products manufactured in Israeli-controlled territory
beyond the Green Line, Army Radio reported on Sunday morning.
IDF-run radio station said it obtained an official German government
document that was produced in response to a parliamentary motion by
opposition lawmakers in Berlin. The document reportedly enunciates
Germany’s stance on the issue.
“In our view, it is permissible to
label products with the ‘Made in Israel’ sticker only if those products
are manufactured within the 1967 borders,” reads the document obtained
by Army Radio.
The Jerusalem Post obtained a letter which confirms the Army Radio report.
a letter dated May 13, Dr. Emily Haber, a state secretary in the German
Foreign Ministry, appears to have conveyed a new and explicit position
for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government.
“The label ‘Made in
Israel’ is, according to the opinion of the federal government, only
allowed for products from within the borders of Israeli state territory
before 1967,” stated the letter.
When asked for clarification
about the Haber letter, a German Foreign Ministry spokesperson told the
Post: “Products from Israeli settlements have for a long time been sold
in the EU. The EU is working on joint guidelines for a correct labeling
of the [product] origin in the framework of EU consumer protection law.
We are not conducting a discussion about boycotts.”
Israel has historically relied on Germany as its
most loyal ally in the EU, many of whose members have been vocal in
their support of the Palestinians. Currently, all Israeli exports to
European markets, including those of products produced in West Bank
settlements, are labeled ‘Made in Israel.’ In the last year, however,
there has been growing pressure on EU governments to distinguish between
products made from both within and without the Green Line.
Stanley, the EU’s chief diplomat at its mission in Israel, told Army
Radio that no final decision has been taken by the member states and
that discussions are ongoing. According to Stanley, the raging debate on
this issue is a reflection of Europe’s growing impatience with the
Israeli government’s settlements policy.
Israeli diplomats and
Foreign Ministry officials are reportedly concerned that any labeling of
products manufactured in the settlements would be a first step toward
an eventual European boycott of Israeli goods. According to Army Radio,
European governments are determined to go through with this step, even
going so far as to deny suggestions that they abandoned efforts at the
request of the Obama administration.
While Germany’s defense
relations with Israel are considered to be quite close, Merkel is reportedly furious with Jerusalem’s
continued settlement activity.
“We will fight this,” Deputy
Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin told Army Radio. “We are dealing with this
phenomenon. There isn’t a meeting, a delegation of diplomats, or a
sit-down with foreign ministers in which this issue isn’t raised. There
was a time when the UN equated Zionism with racism. We still don’t think
this is a lost cause. There are ups and downs, and the state of Israel
is obligated to deal with this issue. We have the tools to do it.”
Benjamin Weinthal contributed to this story.