EU adopts guidelines requiring labelling of Israeli settlement produce

By November 12 2015, 17:37 Latest News No Comments

EU flagThe EU this week adopted a Notice of guidelines that require food and cosmetics from Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem to be specifically labelled.

The guidelines stipulate that the EU does not recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967 – the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

According to the guidelines, products produced in the West Bank, Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem cannot be marked as ‘produce of Israel’, and products from Israeli settlements need to be specifically labelled as such. Goods from Palestinian-owned businesses can say “product of Palestine” or “product of West Bank (Palestinian product)”.

The third guideline states that the non-binding Notice “does not create any new legislative rules”, and the choice of penalties “remains within their [individual Member States] discretion”.

It further underlines that Member States must ensure penalties for infringements are “effective, proportionate and dissuasive”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denounced the move as hypocritical, and Israel’s Foreign Ministry stated: “We regret that the EU has chosen, for political reasons, to take such an exceptional and discriminatory step, inspired by the boycott movement, particularly at this time, when Israel is confronting a wave of terrorism targeting any and all of its citizens…It is puzzling and even irritating that the EU chooses to apply a double standard concerning Israel, while ignoring that there are over 200 other territorial disputes worldwide”.

Vered Ben-Sadon, co-owner of the Tura Winery in the West Bank settlement of Rechalim, which exports 40 percent of its 56,000 bottles annually with labels that say “wine from the Land of Israel”, said: “In the past Jews were marked with a yellow patch, and today they are looking to mark our products…Europe, rather than atoning for what it did 70 years ago, is repeating the same ideas”.

Currently, Israel exports $300 million worth of goods a year from Israeli settlements.  Products from the West Bank, Golan Heights and East Jerusalem mount to less than 1% of Israel’s $13 billion in annual exports to the EU’s 28 countries.

More than 25,000 Palestinians work in Israeli settlements in construction, agriculture, and industry, and many thousands of others work without permits for seasonal agricultural work. This accounts for 10% of all Palestinian employment in the West Bank, who are paid on average three or four times more than they could earn elsewhere.

The income of Palestinian workers in Israel and Israeli settlements constitutes more than 10% of the Palestinian GDP.

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