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
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