Fresh fish .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The European Commission has extended the deadline by which Israel must exclude fish and dairy products produced over the pre-1967 lines from its exports to Europe.
A new deadline for the ban, which was to have gone into effect on September 1, has yet to be determined but was expected to be set soon.
The West Bank, the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem are included in the territorial ban, which the commission does not describe as a political boycott but rather says there are technical reasons the products can no longer be marketed in Europe.
Earlier this year the commission told Israel it did not recognize the authority of inspection agencies over the Green Line.
Without such inspections, it claimed the poultry, meat, fish and diary products cannot be sold in Europe.
Failure to comply with this edict could put Israel’s overall exports of these products at risk, the EC warned. The Agriculture Ministry, therefore, decided to abide by the commission’s demands, even as it hoped to find a way out of the situation.
The ministry’s spokesman Amnon Lieberman said Israel does not export meat to the EU and the amount of poultry produced over the pre-1967 lines is insignificant and comes from one factory. That poultry, he said, has been separated out from what is sent to Europe.
Israel and the EU, however, are still working on the issue of fish and dairy products.
The EU already labels all Israeli products based on their place of origin so custom officials can identify which items were produced over the 1967 line. Such items are not part of the EU's free-trade understanding with Israel.
But the EU does not have a policy of excluding products from over the pre-1967 lines to European markets.
The Foreign Ministry, however, fears the sudden focus on this technical issue of inspections is the start of an EU attempt to ban settlement products from the continent by finding existing legislation that supports their exclusion.