A section of the controversial Israeli barrier is seen close to a Jewish settlement near Jerusalem .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The long simmering European threat to specially label products from the settlements moved another step forward toward implementation on Thursday when the European Parliament backed the move in a non-binding resolution on the Mideast that passed overwhelmingly.
The resolution, which called on the EU to play a greater role in the Mideast diplomatic process, also stated that the parliament “welcomes” the EU’s commitment that all agreements with Israel “must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967,” and encourages EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to “take the lead” on “completing the work on EU-wide guidelines on the labeling of Israeli settlement produce.”
The resolution, which stated that “preserving the viability of the two-state solution through concrete action and ensuring full respect for the rights of civilians on both sides must be an immediate priority for the EU and the international community,” passed by a vote of 525 to 70, with 31 abstentions.
Israel immediately slammed the move, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon saying that the move was a discriminatory one “that had the smell of a boycott.
“Under the cover of a technical move, this is an attempt to impose a diplomatic solution instead of encouraging the Palestinians to return to negotiations,” he said. “Europe acts toward Israel with sanctimonious hypocrisy, while it would never consider proposing a similar solution to northern Cyprus or Western Sahara.”
Israel protested against the settlement labeling move at a high-level strategic dialogue with the EU earlier this week, saying that the move unfairly singled out Israel, as similar product labeling action has not been taken in regard to other territorial conflicts around the world, such as the ones in Cyprus and Morocco.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said it was necessary to “call the child by it’s name,” and that “labeling products is a boycott.”
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“Israel will not allow any body to discriminate between products made by Israeli citizens and the territory of the state of Israel,” she said. “Efforts to move forward any [diplomatic] agreement by unilateral moves, especially labeling products, will fail and lead nowhere,” she said.
She said that an “emergency” meeting on the matter will be held in the Foreign Ministry after Rosh Hashana to begin a diplomatic battle against the move.
The settlement labeling proposal has been slowly moving through the cumbersome EU bureaucracy for years, but received a push earlier this year when the foreign ministers of 16 countries – including France, Britain and Italy, but not Germany – sent a letter to Mogherini urging her to promote the measure.
So far no formal proposal has been written or circulated to the various member states for consideration, but Israeli officials believe that this could come as early as next month. The measure is not expected to be mandatory for all 28 EU countries.
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