The European Union’s recently approved guidelines requiring member states to label products made in West Bank settlements are “a win” for those who seek to boycott Israel, opposition leader and Zionist Union chiar Isaac Herzog told French President Francois Hollande on Friday.
Herzog reiterated his commitment to a two-state solution to Israel’s decade-long conflict with the Palestinians, but insisted that certain criteria must be met beforehand.
“Separation and security are necessary first steps on the road to creating two states,” he told the president at their Paris meeting, Channel 2 reported.
The Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement seeks to isolate and delegitimize Israel, not just the West Bank, in the international community for its policies towards Palestinians, he indicated.
The new labeling rules, which will also apply to the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, underscore the EU’s unhappiness over Israel’s continued expansion of settlements on territory that Palestinians are seeking for a future state.
Goods manufactured over the pre-1967 lines may not state that they were “Made in Israel.” Rather, they should be labeled with wording such as “Product from the West Bank (Israeli settlements),” the November guidelines state.
The move drew harsh condemnation from Israeli ministers, who said the move was tantamount to a boycott, with some charging it was a form of classic European anti-Semitism.
Jerusalem warned the decision could affect ties and accused Brussels in a Foreign Ministry statement of applying a double standard to Israel “while ignoring 200 other territorial disputes around the world.”
“Israel condemns the decision of the European Union to label Israeli goods originating over the ’67 lines. We regret that the EU chose for political reasons to take an unusual and discriminatory step drawn from the realm of boycotts, just as Israel is facing a wave of terror directed at all citizens,” the statement read. “The claim that this is a technical step is a cynical, baseless claim.”
The ministry added that labeling goods would not lead to peace with the Palestinians but would instead bolster Palestinian refusal to negotiate.
“Labeling will strengthen radicals trying to advance boycotts on Israel and deny its right to exist, a stance that the EU claims to oppose,” the statement read.
The EU Commission in response said the guidelines are merely a technical measure it was forced to impose after three member states — Britain, Belgium and Denmark — already had imposed special labeling on their own, since the EU needed streamlined guidelines throughout the 28 nations.
“The EU does not support any form of boycott or sanctions against Israel. The EU does not intend to impose any boycott on Israeli exports from the settlements,” the EU said in a statement.
Raphael Ahren and Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.