Israel stops exports of dairy and poultry produce originating in the Jewish settlements that are considered illegal by the international community. The restriction draws on the directives that the European Commission issued in February stating that the EU does not recognize the authority of veterinary inspections of the State of Israel that originate in the disputed settlements. As such, Israel cannot approve the export of poultry and dairy products from the settlements in east Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights.
In the course of negotiations between the EU and Israel, the Jewish state was asked to put in place “a system of distinguishing between the origins of dairy products and poultry”. An Israeli official that was involved in the mutual talks said that Israel’s agriculture ministry had lately issued directives that prepare for the EU decision and separate manufacturing lines in order to continue exporting to Europe. Israel’s food exports from the settlements are generally not significant and cater mostly to Jews in Europe that keep Jewish religious dietary laws and eat only kosher food.
The influential Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted officials in agricultural and foreign ministries saying that the ban on settler exports would have minor economic effect as the produce affected would be channelled to the domestic market. The move has also encountered opposition claiming that the move was a European way to bypass problematic legislation that would single out Israel. The opposition adds that the EU has tried to discriminate settlement produce for a long time including curbing its imports to Europe but did not succeed to push such legislation as it is really problematic because it implies breaching trade deals. The EU defends itself saying that the EU Commission does not wish to promote imports from any “disputed areas”, such as Western Sahara, Kosovo or Cyprus.