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EU Product Labeling Creates “Legal Ghetto” for Israel

November 16, 2015

“But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.  For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people.”  (Psalm 52:8–9)

On Wednesday, in a move that is tantamount to a boycott of Israeli products and a punishment of Israel for the absence of a renewed peace process, the European Parliament adopted a resolution to label as “settlement products” goods produced by Israelis or Jews across the pre-1967 lines.

A large majority of the Parliament voted to support the Interpretative Notice resolution which, when implemented, will distinguish between products made in “pre-1967 Israel” and products made by Israelis in “post-1967 Israel” — the Golan Heights, Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem.

The European Union (EU) insists the move was a compliance measure to provide correct information about point of origin and not a boycott of Israel.

US State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez backed that sentiment saying, “We do not believe that labeling the origin of products is equivalent to a boycott.  And as you know, we do not consider settlements to be part of Israel.  We do not view labeling the origin of products being from the settlements as a boycott of Israel.”

Israel-lychee-fruit-product labeling

Lychee grown in Israel

Thirty-six US senators responded to EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, who led the product labeling efforts saying, “We believe strongly that these efforts are unwarranted, dangerous and damaging to the prospects of a negotiated solution to this conflict.”  (CBN)

Indeed, the labeling will be damaging to peace efforts between the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) commented on the EU decision as a “step in the right direction but insufficient,” pushing that “products of a war crime must be banned, not just labeled.”

Palestinian media, Fatah, and the Palestinian Authority also exploited the recent terror attacks on France to imply or outright state a that Israel orchestrated the attacks because they were unhappy with the EU decision.

“It is not a coincidence that human blood was exploded in Paris at the same time that certain European sanctions are beginning to be implemented against settlement products, and while France leads Europe in advising the security council that will implement the two-state solution, Palestine and Israel — which the Israelis see as a warning of sudden danger coming from the direction of Europe, where the Zionist, occupying, settling endeavor was born…
The wise and correct thing is to look for who benefits.  In short: They need to search the last place reached by the octopus arms of the Mossad… It is clear that its ‘Mossad’ will burn Beirut and Paris in order to achieve [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s goals.  He, who challenged the master of the White House, hides in his soul enough evil to burn the world.”  (PalWatch translation of Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 15, 2015)

To further demonize Israel, Fatah falsely claimed on its Facebook page that Israel is perpetrating the same acts of terror that occurred in Paris against Palestinians — not only that but the post stated that the Jewish state is responsible for violence around the world.

“As a people who suffer daily aggressions by Israel we understand the suffering of the injured and the families of those who were killed in a cold blood.  Palestinians know the bitter taste of losing beloved ones as the Israeli army is killing civilians in Palestine almost by the hour…  We in the Fatah movement look forward to see the entire world winning this battle against terror especially in the Middle East.  We know that restoring peace and stability in the Middle East is the first step to dry the sources of terrorism throughout the world.  It is time to end the brutal Israeli occupation which breeds violence in the entire world.”  (PalWatch translation of Official Facebook page of the Fatah Movement, Nov. 14, 2015)

Senate-boycott-product labeling-EU

PM Netanyahu meets with the United States Senate leadership.  (GPO photo by Haim Zach)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the European Union should be “ashamed of itself,” saying product labeling is hypocritical.

For instance, the EU does not label goods made in northern Cyprus, which Turkey took control of in 1974, but merely describes it as “an internal issue.”  (Times of Israel)

International legal expert professor Eugene Kontorovich of Northwestern University School of Law agrees that the move is hypocritical.

“It is entirely inconsistent with EU policies towards other areas where they do not recognize a country’s sovereignty. …  For example, in Western Sahara, the EU does not recognize Moroccan sovereignty but insists it is OK to label goods from there ‘Made in Morocco,” he said.

“It creates an atmosphere of delegitimization, and paves the way for further and more severe restrictions, which are surely coming if these measures are not defeated.  The goal is to create a legal ghetto for Israel,” he said, urging Israel to fight the decision in court while it can.  “But if Israel just decides that [this labeling issue] is only about settlements, only about a small amount of trade, and not worth fighting for, it will soon face far more serious restrictions.”  (Israel National News)

The European Union's decision to label products is shameful and hypocritical.

GPO graphic

Israeli leaders rejected product labeling as “grave,” “damaging,” and “a shameful step giving a prize to terrorism and the people behind it.”

The State of Israel is considering legal action through the World Trade Organization, whose treaties establish the European action as illegal.  (Ynet)

Netanyahu rejects the labeling saying it is a means to target “the side that is being attacked by terrorism.”

Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, told the EU via Israel’s Channel 2 TV:  “We say you can’t be involved in what is going on in the Middle East while you are taking such an extreme step of labeling products … boycotting us.”

The Foreign Ministry also issued a statement condemning the EU’s decision, adding, “We regret that the EU chose for political reasons to take an unusual and discriminatory step which is drawn from the realm of boycotts, just as Israel is facing a wave of terror directed at all citizens.”

Senior commentator Dan Margalit in an opinion piece for Israel HaYom calls the labeling efforts “the 2015 version of the yellow Star of David” and “blatantly anti-Israel.”

Judenstern-Nazi Germany

The yellow badge that Jews were ordered to sew on their outer garments to mark them as Jews in public.

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