Palestinian laborers work on a construction site in a religious Jewish settlement in the West Bank. [File].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The European Union will impose a ban on imports of all Israeli meat, poultry, and dairy products unless Jerusalem comes up with a sufficiently effective mechanism that differentiates the produce that originates in areas beyond the 1967 Green Line, according to a report which appears in Tuesday editions of Ma'ariv Hashavua.
Last month, a Foreign Ministry official warned that EU legislation could lead to a wholesale refusal to accept any Israeli exports produced in the West Bank, Golan Heights, and east Jerusalem.
According to the Ma'ariv Hashavua
report, however, that ban could encompass produce from all Israeli exporters. Israeli officials have "a matter of weeks" to persuade their EU counterparts that they have put in place a system that separately labels produce that is grown in disputed territories.
EU officials told Ma'ariv Hashavua
that the move "in no way amounts to an economic boycott of Israel." Instead, the decision is simply a continuation of a December 2012 resolution passed by EU cabinet ministers in which it was decided that in any future economic agreements with Israel, Brussels would insist that produce from the settlements be labeled.
The decision is in line with official EU policy according to which all settlements beyond the '67 Green Line are illegal, and hence are not part of the State of Israel.
On July 28, the EU sent a letter to the Agriculture Ministry reminding it that from February 2013 onward, it could no longer supply permits for the export of poultry which originates beyond the Green Line since Brussels doesn't recognize Israeli settlements. The letter demanded the Agriculture Ministry's Veterinary Services differentiate between products made in Israel proper and those produced in the territories.
The deadline for the implementation of such a mechanism was September 1, but now EU officials have agreed to extend the deadline. "This is a process that takes time," an EU source told Ma'ariv Hashavua
In response to the report, a Foreign Ministry official told Ma'ariv Hashavua
: "The issue is currently being discussed between the relevant authorities in Israel and the European Union."