Israel denounces E.U. label rules for products made in settlements

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Source : The Washington Post

The European Union set new guidelines Wednesday requiring that Jewish settlements clearly label export products as coming from occupied territories. Israeli leaders condemned the move as discriminatory and warned that relations with their nation’s biggest trading partner could suffer.

The measures, issued by the European Commission, mean that farmers, vintners and manufacturers in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights — even those employing Palestinian workers — may no longer boast a “Made in Israel” label for Europe-bound goods. Instead, they must tell consumers that the products come from a “settlement” in the territories, which were captured by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Going forward, the poultry, dates, wine, olive oil, cosmetics and other consumer goods must display labels such as “product from the Golan Heights (Israeli settlement)” or “product from the West Bank (Israeli settlement).”

Products made by Palestinian-owned enterprises in the West Bank could be labeled “product from the West Bank (Palestinian product)” or “product from Palestine.”

The decision represents a setback for the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose diplomats have alternately been cajoling and threatening the 28-nation European Union not to move ahead on the new guidelines, which have been under discussion since 2012.

Although the economic impact of the labels will likely be minimal — products from the Jewish settlements represent less than 2 percent of Israeli exports — the move is a potent symbol of Europe’s growing frustration with the collapse of peace talks with the Palestinians against the backdrop of Israel’s 48-year military occupation of the West Bank.

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