The European Union is working on legal guidelines for any member states that
might choose to clearly label products produced in West Bank settlements,
according to diplomatic sources.
“We are pursuing efforts to ensure
correct labeling of settlement goods as tasked by the council,” an EU
spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
The work now underway in
Brussels to create guidelines for the sale of West Bank settlement products
follows a December 2012 conclusion by an EU meeting of foreign ministers that
all agreements with Israel “must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their
inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, namely the Golan
Heights; the West Bank, including east Jerusalem; and the Gaza
Postal codes placed on these products already alert European
custom officials that the products are produced over the pre-1967 line and are
thus not part of the EU’s free trade understanding with Israel.
label still reads “made in Israel” and the consumer cannot distinguish on which
side of the pre-1967 line the product was produced.
Last week 13 European
foreign ministers sent a letter to the EU’s Foreign Policy chief Catherine
Ashton in which they applauded this work.
“We warmly welcome your
commitment to work with fellow commissioners to prepare EU-wide guidelines on
the labeling of settlement [products],” the letter said.
“This is an
important step to ensure correct and coherent implementation of EU consumer
protection and labeling legislation which is in fulfillment of our previous
commitments and is fully consistent with long standing EU policy in relation to
Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories,” the letter
“Our consumers have the right to an informed
choice. This initiative will help support our retailers to provide
this. The correct labeling of products is necessary to ensure our
consumers are not being misled by false information.”
ministers continued, “If European consumers have confidence that they know the
origin of goods they are purchasing, both Green Line Israeli producers and
Palestinian producers will benefit.”
The letter was first published by
AFP and later obtained by the Post.
Among the countries that signed it
were: the United Kingdom, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France,
Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal and Slovenia.
has fought against any European efforts to label products made in West Bank
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, “we are
engaged in a long time diplomatic battle in the EU in order to explain that this
measure is discriminatory and therefore should not be adopted.”
The EU is
applying this kind of labeling only to Israeli West Bank settlements and not to
any other areas in which there is a border dispute.
“Since it singles out
Israel and Israel only for labeling, obviously consumer protection arguments do
not hold water,” he said.
Israel believes that its citizens have a right
to live over the pre-1967 line and that attempts to curtail those rights are
part of an initiative to set the borders of a two-state solution outside the
framework of direct negotiations.