EU: No discussion on banning settlement products

Envoy to Israel dispels rumors that the EU is considering a ban on products from the settlements, despite Irish FM's warning.

Ahava (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
There are no discussions at the EU level of banning settlement products from Europe, EU envoy to Israel Andrew Standley said on Wednesday.
Standley’s comments came in response to a Jerusalem Post question at a press briefing, asking whether he felt that Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore’s proposal that the EU consider banning products from the settlements was gaining any traction inside the EU.
Standley said he did not know the details of the proposal, and clarified that settlement products do not receive preferential tariffs inside the EU, as do products from inside the Green Line.
Referring to South Africa’s declared intent to place special labels on products from the settlements, Standley said that no such policy exists in the EU, although the British have a voluntary program in place to this effect. Those types of decisions are made at the country level, and not by the EU, he said.
In 2009, the British government issued an official but non-binding recommendation urging retailers to place labels on products produced in the West Bank telling whether they were made by Palestinians or settlers.
Denmark appears to be following Britain’s lead, with the Foreign Ministry spokesman telling the AFP on Wednesday that the government was “preparing a system of information based on retailers’ voluntary participation, identifying food products coming from Israeli settlements.”
The spokesman said that this step “clearly shows consumers that these goods are produced under circumstances that a Danish government, as well as other European governments, reject.”
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the Danish move was different from South Africa’s, which elicited an angry Israeli response, because what the Danes were proposing was voluntary, while the South African move would apparently be obligatory.
South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies published a notice in the government gazette two weeks ago saying that products that “originate from the Occupied Palestinians Territory” must not be labeled as made in Israel.
Jerusalem made its unhappiness with the move clear to the South African envoy in Israel, who relayed the message back to Pretoria.
The step has not yet become official South African policy.
Israel’s strong reaction to the South African move was intended, one government official said, to get Pretoria to step away from the policy before it became official. It also seemed intended to send a message to other countries that such moves would be fiercely resisted by Jerusalem.