13 EU ministers favor labeling settlements goods

(JTA) — Foreign ministers from 13 European Union member states have asked the union to form guidelines for labeling products made in what they regard as Israeli settlements.

According to a report Friday in El Pais, the Spanish daily, the request was made to Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, in a letter co-signed by ministers from Spain, Portugal, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Slovenia, Luxembourg and Malta.

"This is an important step to ensure correct and coherent application of EU consumer protection and labeling legislation, which is in fulfillment of our previous commitments and is fully consistent with long-standing EU policy in relation to Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” they wrote on April 12 to Ashton.

The ministers also wrote: “We stand ready to assist you in taking forward this important work," in reference to guidelines published in 2012 after a meeting by the EU’s 27 foreign ministers that said "the European Union and its members are obligated to fully and effectively implement existing EU legislation and agreements with Israel regarding products from the settlements."

The European Union considers as illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights, and some of its members have said that labeling products from such settlements as “made in Israel” is misleading. 

"The correct labeling of products is necessary to assure that our consumers are not misled by false information," the ministers wrote.

Israel annexed eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, both areas captured in the 1967 Six-Day War, and does not consider the areas as settlements. The final status of the West Bank, also captured during the ’67 war, has yet to be determined.

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