Israel Warns European Nations to Not Boycott Settlement Goods

Israel has warned the European Union that boycotting certain Israeli goods would jeopardize any possible European role in the peace process.

The European Union last week threatened to exclude from preferential trade agreements goods produced by Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights.

Netanyahu said this week that such threats were “a sign of bias against Israel.”

A boycott would “put an end to any attempt of the European Union to have any kind of facilitating role in the peace process,” said Netanyahu. “It will immediately tell us that the European Union is not in fact a facilitator of equal standing and equal sympathies, but in fact is a one-side player.”

In Brussels, the E.U. issued a sharp response, saying it would not accept political lectures from Israel.

An E.U. spokesman said the boycott recommendation was aimed at suspected violations of trade privileges, and had nothing to do with the peace process.

The preferential terms for the import of Israeli goods applied only to those produced within Israel proper, said the official.

The boycott threat comes as leaders of the world’s major industrialized states expressed “deep concern” at the continuing stalemate in the peace process.

“We strongly support the efforts to gain the agreement of the parties to a package of constructive and realistic ideas which have already been presented by the United States,” including an Israeli redeployment in the West Bank, the leaders of the G-8 nations declared in a communique Sunday at the end of their summit in Birmingham, England.

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