(photo credit: REUTERS)
A call by 16 European Union foreign ministers to label West Bank settlement products is irresponsible, Yesh Atid party head Yair Lapid said Thursday night as he spoke by telephone with the EU’s foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini.
“This is a de-facto call to boycott Israel,” he said. “There is no difference between products which are produced over the Green Line and those that are produced within the Green Line.
“This is an irresponsible call that could create wreak havoc on the Israeli economy. This kind of call is a stain on the EU, and the state of Israel has to fight to prevent this kind of initiative,” he said.
Lapid spoke with Mogherini after Haaretz published a letter by the foreign ministers that called for the EU to publish its long awaited guidelines on the consumer labeling of West Bank settlement products in EU stores.
The products are already marked for EU customs officials, so that they are not included in Israel’s free trade arrangement with the EU. But when consumers pick the products up in stores, they can only see that it is made in Israel.
Mogherini’s predecessor Catherine Ashton had said the EU would provide member states with guidelines that would show how to use existing EU legislation to legally mark the products. It would be up to the 28 individual EU member states to decide if they wanted to label the products.
But when the US initiated its nine-month peace process from August 2013 to April 2014, it asked the EU to freeze the issuance of the guidelines to help create a conducive climate for talks. When the US-led negotiations fell apart, the guidelines remained frozen.
The EU ministers, including those from France and Great Britain, told Mogherini the time had come to publish those guidelines.
EU consumers, they said, have a right to know the origin of the products they are purchasing, adding that it was important to take a step against settlement expansion which threatens the prospect of a just and lasting peace.
Mogherini’s office confirmed only that it had received the letter, but said it did not yet have a response.