Israeli leaders are furious with the European Union after the European Commission — the EU’s executive body responsible for proposing legislation — issued a ruling earlier this month that all food products manufactured in Israel’s settlements must be clearly labeled as such.
The ruling, issued on the grounds that the EU “does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, namely the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and does not consider them to be part of Israel’s territory, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law,” is meant to protect the market from being misled into believing that goods produced in the settlements were produced in the country of Israel itself.
In response, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the move would only serve to hurt the livelihoods of Palestinian workers in the settlements.
Furthermore, the labels, which must include the expression “Israeli settlement” or an equivalent, would likely enable a boycott of Israeli goods. The labeling measures will apply to regional goods like produce, wine, honey, olive oil, and cosmetics — an estimated $50 million worth of goods produced in the settlements a year. In total, the settlements produce between $200 and $300 million in goods, according to the Telegraph.
“The EU decision is hypocritical and constitutes a double standard; it singles out Israel and not the 200 other conflicts around the world,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “The EU has decided to label only Israel, and we are not prepared to accept the fact that Europe is labelling the side that is being attacked by terrorism.”
Echoing those sentiments, Israel’s energy minister Yuval Steinitz denounced the mandate as a discriminatory policy that called to mind “when Jewish products were last labelled in Europe.”
The Commission, meanwhile, maintains that the mandate is purely “technical, not political,” and that the distinction is not meant as a punishment.