European diplomat: Labeling won’t affect trade with Israel


(JTA) — The European Commission’s newest guidelines on the labeling of products from Israeli settlements will neither impact trade with Israel nor incur sanctions on non-complying EU states, a senior European diplomat said.

The diplomat, who spoke to JTA on Tuesday on condition of anonymity, citing EU regulations that require all messaging go through spokespeople, was referring to a document the diplomat said was due to be published Wednesday or later this week by the European Commission. It carries explanations on EU requirements for labels on products marketed from Israel to the European Union that are produced or packaged in disputed areas under Israel’s control: the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

“Our statistics show that in countries where this is applied, in the United Kingdom, for example, overall trade volume of Israel has gone up, not down, since separate labeling for products made in occupied territories began,” the diplomat said.

The document recommends separate labeling for each of the three disputed areas under Israeli control, according to the diplomat. The document was drafted following an appeal in April by 16 EU foreign ministers to the union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, asking her to push for implementing guidelines published in 2012. The foreign ministers said the guidelines on separate labeling settlement goods were part and parcel of the EU’s commitment to a two-state solution and to its commitment to consumers.

In addition to Britain, settlement goods are labeled as such in the EU only in Belgium and Denmark, the diplomat said. The new guidelines will likely increase compliance, but would probably not incur any sanctions of non-complying states, the diplomat added.

Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, referred to the labeling as facilitating “boycotting products from Judea and Samaria,” which she said was “a boycott against Israel.” But the diplomat said the European Union was interested in “the opposite” of boycotting Israel.

“Let’s not forget that the trade volume involved is tiny; it’s 1 percent of overall trade,” said the diplomat.

On Tuesday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry published a statement that said “these measures are discriminatory in nature. It is intolerable that Israel is the only country that has been singled out by the EU for such a policy, despite the fact that there are over 200 disputed territories worldwide.”

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