The European Union’s executive approved on Wednesday new guidelines for labelling products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights.
The European Commission “adopted this morning the Interpretive Notice on indication of origin of goods from the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967,” said an EU official.
Brussels regards this as a technical decision, but the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it is unacceptable discrimination.
“The decision of the European Union is hypocrisy and double standards, and only deals with Israel but not the 200 other conflicts around the world,” Netanyahu said in statements from Washington before a visit with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
The World Jewish Congress’ (WJC) said the European Union was guilty of applying “blatant double standards”.
Earlier, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in an interview that it could be said that “this is probably an accomplished fact,” adding that Israel had to deal with the situation and its political consequences.
According to Nahshon, the EU measure is “the epitome of hypocrisy.” He said, “This is a clearly political measure aimed at forcing a political solution on us without negotiations with the Palestinians. We told the Europeans, ‘Do you want to discuss the future of the territories and the status of the Jewish communities? Fine. The right way of doing this, however, is through direct negotiations’.”
Nahshon criticized the Europeans, saying, “It would be better for them to direct their efforts at persuading the Palestinians to return to negotiations in order to achieve peace, instead of hiding behind bureaucracy and documents.”
“This is reminiscent of dark periods of history, because there are about 200 territorial disputes around the world, but the only place where products are marked is here,” Nahshon pointed out and warned, “It starts with marking products from Jewish communities over the Green Line, but it can expand into a general boycott of Israeli products if the European consumer thinks he ‘doesn’t want to get into trouble’.”
European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor has called on the new European Union labeling regime ‘very problematic’.
“There are no comparable guidelines for any other territorial dispute or what are perceived as occupations anywhere else in the world,” Dr. Kantor said. “In fact, in many other disputes the EU actually supports or profits from an internationally designated occupation, so there is certainly a very strong element of double-standards applied to the Jewish State.”
“We see that once again Israel is singled out for special treatment above all other nations of the world and this is clearly discriminatory and stands in stark contradistinction to the EU’s own mandate to be fair and free of prejudice.”
“The EU has been consistently asked why Israel is made a special case without any other precedent,” Dr. Kantor said. “The EU has refused to answer even though we see it signing agreements to profit from and contributing to Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara and Turkey’s occupation of Northern Cyprus.”
“Furthermore, these guidelines may contravene international treaties and agreements like the World Trade Organization.”