Israel’s Foreign Ministry released a statement today in which it strongly condemned the European Union for adopting new guidelines in early September, requiring the labeling of Israeli products in Judea and Samaria. Israel took control of both regions during the Six Day War in 1967, but never fully annexed them.
“Whereas the upcoming labeling guidelines are presented by the EU as a purely ‘technical measure’ designed to protect European consumers, there is no doubt that the main purpose of the measure is to exert political pressure upon Israel,” the Foreign Ministry stated.
The Foreign Ministry argued that the European Union was discriminating against the Jewish state. “These measures are discriminatory in nature. It is intolerable that Israel is the only country that has been singled out by the EU for such a policy, despite the fact that there are over 200 disputed territories worldwide.”
Israel also said that the new policy will encourage boycotts against Israel. “The labeling guidelines may serve to encourage the idea that the boycott of Israeli products is acceptable, which contradicts stated EU policies. It will also provide renewed energy to the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement being advanced by certain NGOs.”
The Foreign Ministry noted that it was not consumers-protection organizations that were behind the drive to label Israeli produce in Judea and Samaria. “The labeling guidelines initiative is being promoted by anti-Israel organizations, and not be European consumers-protection organizations.”
Israel claimed that the new labeling guidelines would actually undermine the two-state solution process. “The labeling guidelines will not benefit the advocates of the two-states-for-two-peoples solution. They constitute an attempt to pre-judge the outcome of future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Worse, they could serve as an additional incentive for the Palestinian Authority to eschew direct negotiations with Israel.”
Israel also argued that the new EU policy would threaten the livelihoods of thousands of Palestinians. “Economically thousands of Palestinian households will lose their main source of income due to changes in production policy of Israeli companies deriving from these guidelines. Currently, there are about 30,000 Palestinians working for Israeli companies in the territories under Israeli control since 1967.”
Last week, former Israeli Ambassador to the US and current Member of Knesset Michael Oren (Kulanu) protested the EU’s move by labeling a number of European Union products in a store in Jerusalem’s German Colony neighborhood. Likud Member of Knesset Miki Zohar also introduced a bill that would label of products from European Union countries that label Israeli products from Judea and Samaria.