Israeli diplomatic sources say US Secretary of State John Kerry is behind the recent wave of European threats to boycott settlement products, and intends to use these threats against Israel should the current series of peace talks fail, it was reported on Tuesday.
Kerry, according to sources cited in an Army Radio report, has encouraged various European countries behind the scenes in their efforts to initiate bans on the import of products originating in the West Bank settlements, but has taken pains to ensure that such actions remain “a threat” only.
If the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations fail, the sources said, Kerry will “release the restraints” and the initiatives will be allowed to “go into effect.”
In December, a Dutch water company backed out of a major deal due to Israel’s national water carrier’s activities in the West Bank.
In November, a deal was signed to enable Israel’s participation in the Horizons 2020 joint research program, despite an EU decree, that banned West Bank Israeli institutions from receiving European funding.
In July, a major Dutch supermarket reportedly decided to stop carrying products from the settlements, but later said its policy had been quoted inaccurately.
Europe has long opposed much of Israel’s policy in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and in March EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was the latest to call for implementing the labeling of products produced in the settlements for sale in Europe.
A Der Spiegel report from early 2013 estimated that Europe imports some $287 million (NIS 1 billion) worth of goods produced beyond the Green Line each year.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.