November 15, 2015: ‘Post’ readers weigh in (again) on EU labeling

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
With regard to “Israel slams EU directive to label settlement products” (November 12), European Union Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen should be summoned to the Foreign Ministry to explain how a product emanating from non-Israeli settlements in the West Bank can, under the new directives published by the EU, be lawfully be labeled when sold within the EU as being a product of “Palestine”? Chapter 9 of the EU’s “Interpretative Notice” issued on November 11 states: “For products from Palestine that do not originate from settlements, an indication which does not mislead about the geographical origin, while corresponding to international practice, could be [to label them] ‘product from the West Bank (Palestinian product),’ ‘product from Gaza’ or ‘product from Palestine.’” The footnote to this paragraph states: “This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of the Member States on this issue.” Nonetheless, “Palestine” is a non-existent country as a matter of international law. It is not within the authority of any country or group of countries to declare the statehood of any physical area as a country, whether in the United Nations or anywhere else.
What the EU is doing is totally contrary to international law. It should be held accountable for this by the Israeli government.
Tel Aviv
The Foreign Ministry’s statement that Israel is “suspending its diplomatic dialogue with the EU in various forums in which it has meetings scheduled in the coming weeks” is probably not in Israel’s best interest.
Why doesn’t the government simply publicize how many Arabs work in the factories and farms producing these products? Presumably, if sales of these products decline, these workers will lose their jobs.
Case in point: How many workers lost their jobs when SodaStream moved its plant from Mishor Adumim to the northern Negev? How are these people earning a living now? DAVID RICHARD Bet Shemesh Certainly, the European labeling of Jewish produce from the West Bank will have a detrimental effect on the Palestinian economy and reduce opportunities for coexistence among peoples (“Europe’s BDS labeling hurts Palestinians, not Israelis,” The World from Here, November 11).
Ironically, one of the stated justifications for this legislation was that it would have an impact on Israel and its policies.
Yet even were “gentlemen” to disagree about the status of goods produced in the “West Bank,” the labeling/boycott rules also apply to east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, which the government recognized as being within Israeli borders decades ago. Show me another instance of European nitpicking over anyone’s borders.
The fact that the European Union has extended its boycott to businesses within these areas lets the cat out of the bag: This is an anti-Semitic measure by any measure.
I suggest that the labels of all products made in the territories say the following: “Made by [company name], with [number of] Palestinian employees making an average wage of [amount] per hour, [x] times more than the average wage in the territories, and receiving health benefits, pension contributions [and any other benefits], all of which equal the wages and benefits paid to Israeli employees at the company.”
The label should also include a picture of one of the Palestinian employees and his family, along with the caption: “[Name of employee] and his family. [X] years employed. Annual salary of [x], plus full benefits.”
The European Union guidelines are currently for products manufactured in east Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights.
However, last month, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, the EU’s ambassador to Israel, was quoted as saying there “would be further steps down the road.”
Since Europeans have a long history of restricting areas where Jews could live and restricting the professions they could practice, I propose using a yellow star in the symbol for the these labeled products. After all, it’s a symbol the Europeans will easily recognize – and are obviously still comfortable with.
Ma’aleh Adumim
Maybe the European Union should consider labeling its own products as being “from countries that gave the world crusades, inquisitions, pogroms and genocide.”
Downsview, Ontario
In Cyprus, we read with concern that the European Union has decided to take action against products produced in areas taken by Israel in 1967.
What we do not understand is why the EU has not taken action against products produced in areas of northern Cyprus that were occupied by Turkey in 1974.
Is this not a double standard?
In “Clued in” (My Word, November 6), Liat Collins wrote: “Nobody is forced to buy a product labeled ‘Made in Israel’ just as no one need buy produce marked ‘Made in Spain’ if they feel uncomfortable about Spanish disputed territories such as the Basque region, Barcelona, or even Gibraltar for that matter.”
I was surprised to read the Basque region and Barcelona described as “disputed territories.”
Allow me to clarify some points for the benefit of your readers.
Both the Basque region, or Basque country, as it is known in Spanish, and Barcelona have been part of Spain since its origin, Spain being among the first modern nation-states formed more than five centuries ago. Basques and Catalans have played an essential role in Spanish history, together with other peoples of the common Spanish nation.
Both the Basque country and Catalonia enjoy, thanks to the Spanish Constitution of 1978, one of the highest levels of self-government in the world.
Both regions, or “autonomous communities,” as they are called in the Spanish political system, have their own institutions, police, representation abroad and civil law. Basques and Catalans elect their representatives at the national, regional, local and European level; can freely speak the Basque and Catalan languages, which are co-official languages alongside Spanish (also known as Castilian); and enjoy every civil and political right, like all Spanish citizens.
Gibraltar is a colony and, indeed, disputed territory. Under Chapter XI of the UN Charter, the United Kingdom registered Gibraltar in 1946 as a “non-autonomous territory.” Since 1963, it has been included on the list of territories subject to decolonization within the scope of the Special Committee responsible for examining the situation in terms of the application of the declaration on the concession of independence to countries and colonial peoples (“Committee of the 24”).
Since then, a number of resolutions and decisions by the UN General Assembly have constituted the doctrine on the decolonization of Gibraltar, based on Resolution 1514 (XV) of 1960 on decolonization in general.
In the case of Gibraltar, the UN has not recognized the right to self-determination, but recognizes the principle of territorial integrity. It has recommended repeatedly since 1965 that the question of Gibraltar be resolved by bilateral negotiations between Spain and the UK, taking into account the interests of the population of the colony. Only the UN can decide when the decolonization process of Gibraltar has been completed. Until then, Gibraltar will be included on the UN list of dependent territories.
Spain has repeatedly asked the UK to engage in bilateral negotiations in compliance with the provisions of the UN in order to reach a definitive solution to the only remaining colony in Europe.
Tel Aviv
The writer is the ambassador of Spain to Israel.