Israel strongly condemned the decision of the European Union to label products from its Jewish settlements saying it would jeopardize the peace process with the Palestinians. Tzpi Hotovely, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, said that “any such ruling will undermine the chances of peace negotiations”. “Our (European) friends will realize that at a time when terror is coming only from the Palestinian side, it is very clear this is not the way to promote coexistence,” she added. The EU had decided that all products originating from Jewish settlements in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Golan Heights must be labeled accordingly starting next week.
Ms Hotovely is visiting Spain, Germany and France this week making her latest attempt to persuade major European countries to drop the proposal. However, many EU members are increasingly frustrated by lack of progress in peace talks as well as Israel’s continuous expansion of its settlements on territory occupied since the 1967 Six Day War. Such territories are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that “the Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”.
The European Commission has been planning to label the products coming from the settlements since 2012. While Israel calls any such action a boycott, Brussels states that it is merely providing customers with information. Ms Hotovely added she considered the settlements a part of Israel so there was “no difference” between labeling products from them and other areas. “Labeling, it is very clear to say, is the pure boycotting of Israel,” she concluded while also pointing out that “there are over 200 territorial disputes around the world. We don’t see Europe has the motivation to inform the consumer in Europe on the other 200 areas. Europe is singling out Israel”. The EU has not commented.