Israel has partially suspended diplomatic talks with the European Union — at least for now — over a decision by the EU to issue guidelines on labeling goods produced by Jews in Judea and Samaria.
Earlier in the day the European Commission, which is the political arm of the EU, issued the guidelines that have been in preparation since 2012, and are a clarification of the EU’s basic position:
“The European Union, in line with international law, 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 then to be part of Israel’s territory, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law.”
The guidelines are to “ensure the respect of the union positions and the commitments in conformity with international law on the nonrecognition by the union of Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967.”
Each member state has the right to make its own decision on whether to place the “warning” consumer labels on products produced in Judea and Samaria by Jewish manufacturers, or not.
The bilateral dialogue to be abandoned by Israel relates primarily to areas of human rights and issues affecting Israel’s relationship with the Palestinian Authority, according to Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emanuel Nachshon.
Bilateral dialogue in areas such as education, agriculture, science and culture will continue, he said.
However, the ministry pointed out that “product labeling strengthens the radical elements advocating a boycott against Israel and denying Israel’s right to exist.
“It does not advance any political process between Israel and the Palestinians. The opposite is the case; it is bound to reinforce the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to conduct direct negotiations with Israel, negotiations that the EU claims to support.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded harshly to the move, telling journalists in an on-camera statement:
“The labelling of products of the Jewish state by the European Union brings back dark memories. Europe should be ashamed of itself. It took an immoral decision. Of the hundreds of territorial conflicts around the world, it chose to single out Israel and Israel alone, while it’s fighting with its back against the wall against the wave of terror.
“The European Union is not going to hurt the Israeli economy. It’s strong enough to weather this, but it’s the Palestinian workers in Israeli enterprises in Judea and Samaria that will be hurt. This will not advance peace; it will certainly not advance truth and justice. It’s wrong. Europe should be ashamed of itself.”
Some member states are not participating in the decision, however; the UK is one country that has chosen to ignore the ban.
There has also been a backlash in the Jewish State: News 0404 reported Wednesday on a supermarket in northern Israel that removed all the products from Europe, leaving only blue and white merchandise on the shelves. The supermarket owner, who is not religious, has chosen to remain unnamed and said the “blue-and-white” initiative was strictly a patriotic move and not intended for publicity.Hana Levi Julian