Yvette Cooper 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
LONDON – Britain’s new shadow foreign minister has called for her government to
pressure the European Union to introduce labelling on West Bank products to
differentiate between goods produced by Palestinians and Israeli
Yvette Cooper told The Guardian on Saturday that the government
should step up pressure on Israel to stop building settlements by pushing for
greater Europe-wide transparency on food products exported from the West
“The continued building of settlements in the occupied territories
is illegal and a serious obstacle to peace,” she told the paper.
member states can speak with one voice, including guidance to retailers on
produce from settlements in the West Bank, it will send a strong signal on how
important this is.”
The Labor politician, who recently returned from a
visit to the region, said she was against a blanket boycott of Israeli goods but
believed that retailers and consumers should be informed whether products are
produced “by illegal settlers.”
“Consumers should be able to choose what
produce they buy,” Cooper told the Guardian. “That includes knowing exactly
where it came from and having access to all markets, including Gaza, whose
population is still unable to export to the wider world.”
blamed both Israel and the Palestinians for “a worrying lack of urgency in the
Last December, while Labor was still in power, the
government introduced voluntary guidelines calling for the clear labeling of
goods and produce originating from the West Bank. It said the advisory was a
response to consumer demand for information about the origin of produce that had
been produced in the West Bank, and dismissed the accusation that the move would
lead to a wider boycott of Israeli goods.
Leading the call for labeling
was the radical fringe group Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which calls for a
complete boycott of Israel.
“Importers, retailers, NGOs and consumers
have asked the government for clarity over the precise origin of products from
the occupied Palestinian territories,” Department for the Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs Secretary of State Hilary Benn said at the time. “The label ‘West
Bank’ does not allow consumers to distinguish between goods originating from
Palestinian producers and goods originating from illegal Israeli
The advisory drew an angry response from Israel, which said
the move would promote further radicalization of the Palestinians.
September, there were concerns within the Jewish community when Ed Miliband,
Labor’s first Jewish head, won his party’s leadership contest. An ardent
socialist, most of his leadership campaign had been directed toward the left of
the party, describing the direction of the party as “brutish US-style
capitalism.” His narrow victory – gaining 50.65% of votes – owed much to votes
from trade unions.
The Conservative party said this would mean he’ll
remain in debt to them, while MPs who supported his brother David for the party
leadership warned that Ed Miliband’s dependence on union votes would be a
“disaster” for the party.
Many of Britain’s top unions support a boycott
of Israel and severing ties with the Histadrut labor
Miliband, who is an atheist, told the party conference in
October that Britain must “strain every sinew” to make Israel end the blockade
of Gaza, He also condemned Israel’s response to the Gaza flotilla incident in