Herzog tells UK that labeling settlement goods ‘rewards terror’
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Herzog tells UK that labeling settlement goods ‘rewards terror’

Opposition leader says EU’s imminent branding of West Bank products will harm Palestinian workers, push peace further away

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog (right) and list No. 2 Tzipi Livni at party meeting at the Knesset on November 02, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog (right) and list No. 2 Tzipi Livni at party meeting at the Knesset on November 02, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog told Britian’s ambassador to Israel Tuesday that a European Union plan to mark products made in factories over the Green Line is “a prize for terror.”

The EU will decide next week exactly how to label West Bank settlement products, after the European Parliament passed a resolution last month to approve the measure, according to a report by Haaretz.

Herzog, who heads the dovish Zionist Union Knesset faction, told David Quarrey he “strongly opposes this harmful and unnecessary measure,” calling it “a prize that Europe is bestowing for terror.”

“[It] serves only one purpose – continuing the hate and regional conflict. Marking these products is an act of violence by extremists who want to further inflame the situation and the EU is falling into their trap,” he said, according to a Hebrew-language transcript provided by Herzog’s spokesperson.

The Zionist Union chairman also warned that the move would be tantamount to a “blow to tens of thousands of Palestinians employed in factories in the West Bank under proper conditions who bring in an income for their families.”

The comments were a rare note of unity between Herzog and the ruling government, which has also vociferously opposed the prospects of a labeling regime.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely slammed the move in comments to reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

Speaking during a tour of a West Bank factory, she said that “the factory we stand in is a symbol of coexistence, and in my view anyone who wants to promote peace must at the very least see this place with their own eyes.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (L) talks with a Palestinian worker on November 3, 2015 as she visits the Lipski plastic factory at the Barkan Industrial Park near the Israeli settlement of Ariel in the West Bank, after the European Union's (EU) decision to label goods made in Jewish settlements. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (L) talks with a Palestinian worker on November 3, 2015 as she visits the Lipski plastic factory at the Barkan Industrial Park near the Israeli settlement of Ariel in the West Bank, after the European Union’s (EU) decision to label goods made in Jewish settlements. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

She said she saw the factory trip as “a visit that marks the start of a struggle” against product labeling.

But Herzog is not likely to be part of that government effort.

He said his concern came from a belief that it wouldn’t advance moribund peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians.

“My stance on separating from the Palestinians is well-known,” he said, “but you will not achieve this with this kind of step.”

Peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis broke down in April 2014 amid mutual recrimination. The past month has seen a spike in Palestinian terror attacks on Israelis in Jerusalem, the West Bank and cities across the country.

In April, the foreign ministers of 16 of the European Union’s 28 member states sent a letter to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini asking her to promote the labeling of products from the settlements in store chains throughout Europe. Germany wasn’t among the signatories.

Then-foreign minister Avigdor Liberman strongly condemned the bid, suggesting that European nations might as well label them “with a yellow star” such as the one used by Nazi Germany to identify Jews before and during the Holocaust.

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