France backs labeling settlement goods, but not boycotting Israel
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France backs labeling settlement goods, but not boycotting Israel

Economy minister says Paris’s position remains unchanged as Israel working to halt EU initiative

French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron attends a session of the French National Assembly in Paris, February 17, 2015. (AP/Jacques Brinon)
French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron attends a session of the French National Assembly in Paris, February 17, 2015. (AP/Jacques Brinon)

French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday that while Paris backs EU plans to label products from Israeli settlements, it opposes any boycott of Israel.

“The French and European diplomatic position is clear and has not changed and will not change,” he told reporters at the start of a two-day visit to Israel and the West Bank.

The labeling plan has been blasted by Israel, which says it is the target of an international delegitimization campaign.

But Macron was adamant that France opposes campaigns such as that of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which aims to put political and economic pressure on Israel over its presence in the West Bank.

“We are against any practice such as that of the BDS,” he said.

In April, France and 15 other European Union countries urged the bloc to clearly label products sold in member counties which originated in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Sunday that Israeli diplomats in European capitals were working to halt or at least slow down the labeling plan.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said Saturday that the union will soon finalize its decision on how to label products manufactured in Jewish settlements beyond the Green Line, according to Haaretz.

File: EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini speaks to journalists at the European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, July 20, 2015. (AFP/John Thys)
EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini speaks to journalists at the European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, July 20, 2015. (AFP/John Thys, File)

Speaking at a meeting of European foreign ministers where the dominating subject on the agenda was the recent migrant crisis in Europe, Mogherini said the 28-nation bloc still had some work to do on the issue of labeling West Bank settlement products.

The issue of labeling settlement products has been on the agenda for the past several years in the EU. Opponents of the legislation believe it will not be conducive to restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

In Israel, opinions are divided on whether labeling products will slow Israeli economic growth or have a negligible effect.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Florence last month and is to hold talks with Britain’s David Cameron later this week.

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