The European Union’s decision to label products from the West Bank, Golan Heights and east Jerusalem is hypocritical and racist, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said Wednesday.
“This is a miserable decision of unparalleled hypocrisy,” he stated. “Boycotts are inappropriate and do not contribute to solving the situation in our region.”
Edelstein said the decision does more harm than good, because “factories over the imaginary Green Line employ many Palestinians,” and labeling would “harm the delicate fabric of [relations] between Israelis and Palestinians.”
“In addition to that injustice,” he stated, “it is hypocrisy to deal with the source of a potato [referring to agriculture in the West Bank] instead of helping millions of miserable people in the world, including the refugees flooding Europe and escaping the battles in Syria.”
Edelstein said the inclusion of the Golan Heights, “which has long been an inseparable part of Israel with no conflict,” proves the decision is both political and racist, and raises questions about the EU’s self-proclaimed neutrality and objectivity toward Israel.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called the decision “anti-Israel and anti-Jewish,” and said she plans to look into possible legal action against the EU.
“The European hypocrisy and their hatred of Israel has crossed every line,” she stated. “It’s interesting that they do not label products from the Western Sahara or [northern] Cyprus [and other disputed territories].”
Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said in a statement on Wednesday he is “appalled” by the European Union’s decision.
“It’s unfortunate to see that even in 2015 Europe can adopt such a shameful decision,” he said.
Danon also drew a connection between the EU’s move and the 40th anniversary of UN resolution 3379, which was passed on November 10, 1975 and equated Zionism with racism.
“Forty years since the international community compared Zionism to racism, the European Union continues to label the entire Zionist enterprise as racist and as discriminatory,” he said.
MK Michael Oren (Kulanu), a former ambassador to the US, told The Jerusalem Post he thinks labeling settlement products is anti-Semitic. “There are 200 land disputes around the world, and they single us out, and say it’s not anti-Semitic?” he asked, incredulously.
Oren explained why he went to a Jerusalem supermarket last week and put “Made in Europe” stickers on European products.
“I’m not saying we should boycott Europe,” he said. “We just need to diversify. Thirty percent of our products are from Europe. We need to wean ourselves off of it.”
Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) said that perhaps Israelis who live in the West Bank or Golan Heights should label themselves when visiting Europe. “Unfortunately, we are not far from returning to the dark days of Europe in which Jews were labeled with a gold star,” Slomiansky stated.
MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) pointed out that Israel does have some room to make sure the decision does not have disastrous results, because each EU country can decide whether to adopt it or not.
“Israel must go from country to country and convince them not to adopt the decision,” she stated. “In order for that to happen, we need the right policy. We must say the prime minister’s policy is really two states, and prove it, so they will understand there is no reason to push us into a corner.”
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid took to Twitter to write: “Jews are being stabbed in the streets and the EU has given in to BDS. This decision discriminates against Israel and encourages terrorism.”
MK Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union) said the EU’s decision was “stupid, harmful and unhelpful, which leaves a stain on Europe’s forehead.” According to Shmuli, “residents of Hamburg or Copenhagen do not really understand where the Green Line starts and ends, and the decision will end up leading to a boycott of all of Israel.
“Unfortunately, Europe decided shamefully to strengthen those who lead the campaign of boycotting Israel, whose goal is to erase Israel from the map and not to promote peace,” Shmuli added.
Conversely, MK Esawi Frej (Meretz) said the EU decision was the right thing to do, in that it will “allow the Israeli market to rid itself of the painful hunchback of the settlements.”
The decision “allows European consumers who do not want to boycott Israel but do not want to fund the occupation to buy Israeli products, without being concerned that they are funding settlements and the occupation,” he contended.
MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) said the EU made the right decision, because “settlements are illegal according to international law.” He expressed hope that the EU will make it illegal to import settlement products, which he called “the fruits of a poisoned tree.”Danielle Ziri in Washington contributed to this report.