Israel steps up efforts to persuade EU to drop settlement product labels

Israeli officials continue to publicly voice their displeasure with the EU.

November 6, 2015 21:21
2 minute read.
mitzpe kramim

A Jewish man holds his son at a vineyard belonging to Mitzpe Kramim, east of Ramallah in the West Bank. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Israeli diplomats held a series of discussions with European officials on Friday during which they expressed "vociferous objections" to Brussels' plan to label products manufactured in West Bank settlements.

According to a statement released by the Foreign Ministry, Israel's envoy to the EU, David Walzer, and the head of the Foreign Ministry's diplomatic office, Alon Ushpiz, met with senior European Commission representatives as well as ambassadors to various European countries in an effort to persuade them to drop the label initiative.

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"These meetings, which were held as the date on which the labeling of products is approaching, are part of Israel's comprehensive diplomatic activity whose goal is to explain why the European initiative is negative and discriminatory while trying to bring about its cancellation."

Israeli officials continue to publicly voice their displeasure with the EU. Minister of Science, Technology, and Space Ofir Akunis on Thursday cancelled his participation in a joint event with the EU envoy to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen in protest over the anticipated EU labeling directives.

"The labeling initiative is a dark stain on the moral fabric of Europe which bears witness to the fact that the lessons of history have not been learned," he said.
Hotovely: labeling is boycotting Israel

Akunis said he viewed favorably the Horizon 2020 project and other joint science and technology initiatives with the EU but that he "could not ignore the EU initiative which is nearing implementation."

"What began with calls to boycott Jewish businesses, continued with the marking of human beings, and afterwards with their systematic destruction," the Likud minister said. 

Faaborg-Andersen said on Tuesday that products produced over the pre-1967 lines are not “made in Israel” and cannot be labeled that way.

He spoke to The Jerusalem Post in defense of the pending publication of guidelines to enable member states to place consumer labels on exports originating over the pre-1967 lines.

“The EU position is that we do not recognize Israeli authority beyond the Green Line. It is not part of Israel. It is not part of what we understand to be Israel’s international recognized borders,” said Faaborg-Andersen in a telephone interview.

“For that reason we cannot agree that products that come from settlements beyond the Green Line are labeled ‘made in Israel.’” Faaborg-Andersen will be one of the featured speakers at the fourth Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference in Jerusalem on November 18.

An Israeli diplomatic official warned on Monday that the EU settlement-labeling guidelines might be published in the coming weeks, possibly even in the next few days.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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