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Israel is outraged over an EU move to label settlement goods

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Palestinians work at a textile factory in the Industrial Park of the occupied West Bank Israeli settlement of Barkan, southwest of Nablus November 8, 2015. (Reuters photo)

Israel is outraged by the European Union move forcing Tel Aviv to label products made in the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

It came on Wednesday after the EU executive, European Commission, passed new guidelines for labeling the products, describing it a technical issue.

Under the guidelines, Israeli producers must label farm goods and cosmetics that come from illegal settlements constructed in occupied lands in case they are due to be sold in the European Union. 

The Israeli Foreign Ministry released a statement slamming the move, which it regards as an effort to exert pressure on Israel over its settlements activities. It also summoned the EU ambassador to Israel. 

"We regret that the EU has chosen, for political reasons, to take such an exceptional and discriminatory step, inspired by the boycott movement," the statement said, referring to the international movement of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). 

The BDS Movement is a global campaign which uses economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with the goals of the movement -- the end of Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestinian land particularly through illegal settlement constructions in the occupied Palestinian territories. 

Much of the international community, including the EU, regards the Israeli settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank including East al-Quds (Jerusalem) in 1967 as illegal because the territories were occupied, and they are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied land. 

A general view of the illegal Israeli settlement of Ramat Shlomo (foreground) and part of al-Quds (background) (AFP photo)

'A technical issue'

European Commission vice-president, Valdis Dombrovskis, said the EU decision “is a technical issue not a political stance," adding that the commission is providing guidance to “the EU member states and economic operators to ensure the uniform application of the rules on indication of origins of Israeli settlement produce.”

He further said that the labeling is related to consumer policy in the European Union, which does not back “in any form a boycott or sanctions against Israel.”

The EU envoy to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, also said the move is “an indication of origin, not a warning label.”

Products made in the Israeli settlements account for a small portion of Israeli exports. However, labeling the goods has a symbolic meaning and could discourage consumers from a purchase.

The Israeli Economy Ministry, however, has said Wednesday's decision will inflict a loss of about USD 50 million a year on Tel Aviv and affect fresh products such as grapes and dates, poultry, honey, olive oil and cosmetics.

The 28-nation bloc has already banned goods manufactured in the Israeli settlements from receiving customs exemptions.

Accusing the EU of targeting Israel, Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli energy minister, accused the bloc on Tuesday of “disguised anti-Semitism.”

The Israeli regime accuses its critics of anti-Semitism.

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