Dutch FM defends settlement products labeling

By
March 14, 2013 02:35

Timmermans says consideration of marking West Bank originated products is not an attempt to bash Israel, but protect customer.

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protest against Jewish settlements and in a call to boycott settlement products, October 24, 2012.

West bank supermarket, boycott products illustrative 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad)

The Dutch government’s consideration of issuing instructions to supermarkets to clearly mark products originating from West Bank settlements is not an attempt to bash Israel, only protect the consumer, Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said in parliament on Tuesday.

Timmermans was asked during a parliamentary questioning period about reports that the Netherlands was going to encourage retailers to specially label products from the settlements, with center-right parties voicing opposition, and the socialists coming out in favor.

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Timmermans said that since according to international law the settlements are not part of Israel, products from the settlements cannot be labeled as originating in Israel. He emphasized that the Netherlands was not calling for a boycott of products from the settlements, or calling for a prohibition against importing them, but wanted to implement existing EU legislation regarding labeling.

He also stressed that Israel is a friend of the Netherlands, and that the Netherlands is working to get Hezbollah on the EU’s terrorist blacklist.

Replying to a suggestion that this practice was unfairly discriminatory against Israel, since products from other areas around the world in dispute were not specially labeled, Timmermans said his ministry would investigate adopting a similar approach to products from the disputed Western Sahara.No formal government decision on the matter has yet been taken, and Timmermans said a letter on the matter will be presented to the parliament in a number of weeks.

Since the Netherlands is considered one of Israel’s better friends in the EU, Jerusalem is worrried less friendly countries may soon follow.


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