As the European Union prepares to stick labels on Israeli produce manufactured in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid is working to sway hearts and minds to oppose the effort.
Lapid, who has functioned as a de facto shadow foreign minister during his tenure in the opposition, told the Berlin-based DW News network that while he supports a two-state solution, the EU's product-labeling initiative is tantamount to a boycott of Israel.
"The European Union is hiding behind legal jargon and trying to paint a picture that this is a legal matter," Lapid said. "This is incorrect. It's a political issue. They are capitulating to the worst elements of jihad."
"The labeling of settlement products is a direct continuation of the boycott movement against Israel, which is anti-Semitic and misguided," the former finance minister said.
The European Union is expected to publish in the next few weeks its long anticipated guidelines on the consumer labeling of Israeli products produced over the pre-1967 lines – in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.
Lapid interview on German television
The impending EU labeling of what it calls “settlement products” has been a contentious issue between Brussels and Jerusalem since 2012.
Monday night an Israeli diplomat said, “We expect the guidelines to be published soon, possibly within days.”
The official added, “We’re trying to convince the European Union and its member states that this is a mistake. It has an element of discrimination to it and does not in any way help the diplomatic process.”
Israel took issue with the publication of the guidelines at time when the Palestinian leadership refuses to hold direct talks with Israel and during a period in which, since October 1, Palestinian assailants have killed 11 Israelis and wounded more than 100 in a series of some 60 attacks.
“If anything, the publication of these guidelines now gives the Palestinians a prize for their terrorism and obstinacy. It also supports the overall atmosphere of Israeli boycotts,” the official said.
Hotovely: labeling is boycotting Israel
“The EU position is that we do not recognize Israeli authority beyond the Green Line," Brussels' envoy to Tel Aviv, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, told The Jerusalem Post. "It is not part of Israel. It is not part of what we understand to be Israel’s international recognized borders.”
“For that reason we cannot agree that products that come from settlements beyond the Green Line are labeled ‘made in Israel.’”