36 senators sign bipartisan letter against EU labeling plans

Missive says proposed guidelines serve to delegitimize Israel, affecting outcome of any future peace talks

Illustrative: A Palestinian activist places a sign to boycott Israeli products at a supermarket in Bethlehem, West Bank,  February 11, 2015 (Mahmoud Illean/AP)
Illustrative: A Palestinian activist places a sign to boycott Israeli products at a supermarket in Bethlehem, West Bank, February 11, 2015 (Mahmoud Illean/AP)

A bipartisan letter signed by 36 US senators expresses concern over forthcoming European Union guidelines on labeling Israeli products imported by EU countries.

The letter spearheaded by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was sent Monday to Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief and vice president of the European Commission.

The EU is expected this week to issue guidelines that will require products manufactured in West Bank Jewish settlements be labeled differently from those manufactured in uncontested areas of Israel.

“As allies, elected representatives of the American people, and strong supporters of Israel, we urge you not to implement this labeling policy, which appears intended to discourage Europeans from purchasing these products and promote a de facto boycott of Israel, a key ally and the only true democracy in the Middle East,” the letter says.

“We are also deeply concerned that enacting this policy would lead to the broader boycott of Israel,” the letter adds,

The letter accuses the proposed labeling of delegitimizing Israel and affecting the outcome of future peace negotiations.

“At a time of significant instability in the region, it is deeply concerning to us that the EU is considering a proposal intended to impose more diplomatic and economic pressure on Israel,” the letter says. “The proposed labeling guidelines play into the narrative of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement, which is an effort to delegitimize Israel rather than promote a resolution of outstanding issues between Israel and the Palestinians. Far from advancing such a resolution, the proposed labeling would prejudge the outcome of future negotiations,” the letter said.

A motion to identify settlement goods, which would include products from eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, as well as from settlements in the West Bank, was approved by in September by the European Parliament by 424 out of 525 members.

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