(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The European Union will no longer accept dairy exports from West Bank settlements beginning in January.
The new ban is the result of a small technicality in EU legislation with regard to inspection of the products, which was applied to Israel for the first time this year.
The European Commission no longer recognizes the authority of inspection agencies over the pre-1967 lines, and without such an inspection the dairy products from those areas of the country, including east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, cannot be sold in the EU.
European countries in the last few years have grown increasingly vocal about their opposition to West Bank settlements, which they consider illegal, but there is no official boycott of its exports.
Failure to comply with the edict would have made it impossible for any Israeli dairy products to be sold in EU countries.
On Tuesday, the Agriculture Ministry informed dairy factories across the country that “As of January 1, 2015, it will no longer be possible to export dairy products produced over the Green Line, either directly or indirectly.”
Ministry spokesman Amnon Lieberman said the dairy market is primarily a local one and that only a small percentage of its products are exported to Europe.
The primary dairy export to Europe is powdered milk, he said, adding that products produced over the Green Line make up only a small fraction of the sale of dairy products to EU countries.
While the financial loss is small, Lieberman said the issue was significant because of its diplomatic implications.
As of June, a similar ban was applied to poultry from over the pre-1967 lines and, beginning in February, fish will be included in the ban, the Ministry said. Again, the financial impact is minimal, it said.