On Wednesday, the EU Commission adopted an ‘Interpretative notice on indication of origin of goods from the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967’ which imposes that Israeli settlement products has to be mentioned carry distinctive labels.
Jewish groups said the European Union was guilty of applying “blatant double standards” after the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, adopted new guidelines prescribing special labels for products made in Israeli settlements.
‘’After studying the issue deeply we have concluded that there are no comparable guidelines for any other territorial dispute or what are perceived as occupations anywhere else in the world,” European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor said in reaction to the new EU labeling regime.
“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,” he said in a statement, deploring that Israel ‘’ is singled out for special treatment above all other nations of the world.’’
‘’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,” he 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.”
‘’These guidelines may contravene international treaties and agreements like the World Trade Organization,’’ Kantor added.
The World Jewish Congress’ (WJC) on Wednesday said the European Union was guilty of applying “blatant double standards” after the European Commission, the EU’s executive, adopted new guidelines prescribing special labels for certain products made in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights.
World Jewish Congress Robert Singer questioned the EU’s motives: “Let’s not delude ourselves: These guidelines are more than just a technical matter, as some in Brussels claim. Rather, they are misguided attempt to hamper trade with Israel and to exert political pressure on the government in Jerusalem. This does nothing to advance the peace process. On the contrary, all it will do is strengthen those hardliners in the Middle East and in Europe who reject the Jews’ right to live in peace in the land of Israel.”
Robert Singer went on to say: “There is nothing to be said in principle against the labeling of products, but doing so in an arbitrary and discriminatory fashion is not only wrong, it’s possibly illegal,’’ Singer said, urging the EU ‘’ to abide by the international trade agreements it signed and to not treat trading partners differently, based on political considerations.’’
“Clearly, the territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War are disputed, but that does not mean that Israeli companies operating there should be considered illegal entities. While the EU guidelines grant the use of labels such as ‘Made in Palestine’ or ‘Made in the West Bank’ for products made by Palestinian-owned companies operating in the territories, they force Israeli companies, many of which provide a livelihood to Palestinian workers, to add ‘Israeli settlements’ to the label. Why impose two different labels for one and the same place of origin?.’’
“Whoever believes that such measures will trigger any momentum for changing the status quo in Israel and in the Palestinian Territories is misguided,” Singer declared.