Whether it is wine from the Golan Heights, pretzels from Ariel or cosmetics from
the Dead Sea, the European Union is targeting goods produced beyond the Green
Line. In December, the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council reiterated its “commitment
to ensure continued, full and effective implementation of existing EU
legislation and bilateral arrangements applicable to settlement
What they meant was that “Made in Israel” should be reserved
for goods produced inside the Green Line so European consumers can tell the
Last month, ministers from Spain, Portugal, France, the
United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria,
Slovenia, Luxembourg and Malta signed a letter addressed to EU foreign policy
chief Catherine Ashton reaffirming their support for labeling products
originating in cities, towns or industrial parks located in Judea and Samaria.
These 13 countries make up nearly half of the 27 EU member states.
US president Jimmy Carter, speaking in the name of The Elders, a group of former
statesmen who seek to promote peace across the globe, called on the EU to
“clearly label products made in Israeli settlements.”
Thanks to the
intervention of US Secretary of State John Kerry, the EU has reportedly agreed
to delay moving ahead with the labeling measure, which was slated to be voted on
during an EU foreign affairs meeting this week. But the EU will likely raise the
issue again as a means of putting pressure on Israel to expedite a peace
agreement with the Palestinians.
According to estimates by Der Spiegel,
businesses situated beyond the Green Line export some NIS 1.1 billion of goods
to EU member countries annually. The Americans have reportedly argued that the
labeling would complicate renewed US and EU efforts to broker a peace deal
between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
We would like to add a few
reasons of our own showing labeling is a misguided notion.
underlying assumption behind labeling is that Israel alone should be held
responsible and punished for the stalled peace process, while Palestinian
responsibility (intransigence, incitement, refusal to resume negotiations
without preconditions) is ignored.
Also, by singling out Israel,
Palestinians are encouraged not to return to the negotiating table, end
incitement and empower more moderate forces within their society.
labeling, which facilitates the boycott of Israeli products, ends up hurting the
Israeli firms located beyond the Green Line employ
tens of thousands of Palestinian. And because economic ties are difficult to
untangle, a boycott inevitably ends up becoming a collective punishment of Jews
living on both sides of the Green Line as well as of Palestinians.
knows where the final border will be drawn.
The idea of land swaps in
which Israel will give up territory within the Green Line in exchange for
holding onto the large settlement blocs, which make up no more than 2 percent of
the West Bank, has become a central principle of negotiations between the
Palestinians and Israel. Just recently, the Arab League endorsed the idea that
the 1949 armistice line was not sacred and that “mild” land swaps were
acceptable. Therefore, only negotiations will determine the final status of the
disputed territories in the West Bank. In the meantime, future borders remain
Only direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations can determine those
borders. Labeling products presumes that all Jewish settlements beyond the Green
Line will be dismantled and that all of the West Bank will be made Judenrein, an
idea from which even the Arab League has backed away.
The labeling of
Israeli products is reminiscent of the Arab states’ longstanding diplomatic,
economic and cultural boycotts of Israel. These boycotts were implemented from
the moment of Israel’s founding, at a time when Jordan occupied the West Bank
and all Jewish settlements located beyond the 1949 armistice lines were
ethnically cleansed and destroyed.
Not only should the EU delay labeling
Israeli products, it should scrap the idea altogether as ethically indefensible
and incompatible with historical and territorial realities.