The European Commission approved Wednesday guidelines for labeing products from Israeli settlements.
The European Commission "adopted this morning the Interpretative Notice on indication of origin of goods from the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967," said an EU official.
“The European Union, in line with international law, does not recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, namely the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank , including East Jerusalem, and does not consider them to be part of Israel’s territory irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law,” said the EU in its interpretative notice.
Concerning products originating in Israeli settlements, the EU noted that “There is indeed a demand for clarity from consumers, economic operators and national authorities about existing Union legislation on origin information of products from Israeli-occupiedst of Union positions...in conformity with international law...and the non-recognition by the Union of Israel's sovereignty over the territories occupied.”
Israel's Foreign Ministry responded angrily, stating that “Israel condemns the decision of the European Union to label Israeli products originating from areas that are under Israeli control since 1967. 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.”
The foreign ministry further decries the “double standard concerning Israel, while ignoring that there are over 200 other territorial disputes worldwide.”
With a sudden concern for the moribund peace process, the foreign ministry adds that “Product labeling does not advance any political process between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Israel's ambassador to the European Union, David Walzer, stated that "We made it very clear that we welcome EU contributions to the peace process. This might force us to reconsider that."
Israel's Foreign Ministry summoned the EU ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, for an official rebuke.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is reportedly examining possible legal responses to the EU decision.
Chairman of the the Knesset Constitution Committee, Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home) responded that “I suggest that from today the EU doesn't label only products from Judea and Samaria, but also Israeli citizens who live in Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights who visit Europe. To my sorrow the day is not far when we will return to the dark days in Europe in which Jews were marked with yellow stars.”
Yitzhak Herzog, head of the opposition Zionist Camp, stands with official condemnation of the decision by Israel's extreme right-wing government. “The EU decision to label products is dangerous and bad for Israel and indirectly harms the political process efforts,” he noted on Facebook. “I firmly believe we should separate from the Palestinians. To strive for peace even when the wave of stabbings and terror is at its height. Yet this decision harms both Israelis and Palestinians and the thousands of families whose income depends on this industry. Sometimes it appears that nothing changes. The same ritual of decisions. We are already used to comparisons, used to smears, used to being labeled.”
Quoting from the speech of his father, then Israeli Ambassador to the UN Chaim Herzog when responding to the UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 which equated Zionism with racism, Herzog the son wrote that “What he said then is relevant today: “This decision, founded on hatred, lies and ignorance, lacks all moral value. For us, the Jewish people, this is no more than a piece of paper, and we must treat it as such.”
Mahmoud Nawajaa, general coordinator with the Palestinian BDS National Committee, said "This is a welcome sign that European governments are reacting to public opinion, civil society campaigning and Israeli intransigence and are becoming more willing to take some basic action against Israeli violations of international law.
Yet putting some labels on a small number of Israeli products is hardly a proportionate response to repeated Israeli war crimes, especially given the widespread use of fraud by Israeli exporters to deceive customs officials and retail chains about the origin of their stolen goods.
The EU and its member states must meet its legal obligation not to provide aid or assistance to Israeli violations of international law, starting by banning all trade with companies that operate in illegal Israeli settlements, ending EU subsidies to Israeli military companies and stopping the arms trade with Israel."