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Hotovely to Spanish FM: Labeling settlement goods ‘rewards terror’

Deputy FM says EU decision to brand products made in West Bank will harm Palestinian workers, push peace away

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely gives a press conference on November 3, 2015, in the Lipski plastic factory at the Barkan Industrial Park near the Israeli settlement of Ariel in the West Bank, on the European Union's (EU) decision to label goods made in Jewish settlements. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely gives a press conference on November 3, 2015, in the Lipski plastic factory at the Barkan Industrial Park near the Israeli settlement of Ariel in the West Bank, on the European Union's (EU) decision to label goods made in Jewish settlements. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told the Spanish foreign minister on Thursday that a European Union plan to mark Israeli products made in factories over the Green Line is “rewarding terrorism.”

Hotovely told Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo at a Madrid meeting that the measure would also be ineffective, saying it “will not advance the peace process, and will not affect Israel’s economy.”

“The only ones to suffer from this directive is the thousands of Palestinians employees in factories in Judea and Samaria,” she said. referring to the West Bank by its biblical name.

“While you mark products, our citizens are being stabbed in the streets,” she said. “This is rewarding terrorism.”

An EU decision on labeling for products imported from what are defined as settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights is expected next week.

Earlier this week, Hotovely told reporters during a visit to a West Bank factory that she would visit Spain, France and Germany in the coming days in a last-ditch bid to convince the EU to drop the plan.

“Our (European) friends will realize that at a time when terror is coming only from the Palestinian side, it is very clear this is not the way to promote coexistence,” she said on Tuesday.

Hotovely, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, said she considered the settlements a part of Israel so there was “no difference” between labeling products from them and other areas. “Labeling, it is very clear to say, is the pure boycotting of Israel,” the lawmaker charged.

Israel has widely criticized the EU proposal to label products from Jewish settlements, saying it would damage the peace process with the Palestinians. However, the EU insists the measure is merely providing customers with information.

Hotovely’s words echoed those of opposition leader and Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog, who made similar comments to Britain’s ambassador to Israel, David Quarrey.

Herzog said that while he supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he “strongly opposes this harmful and unnecessary measure,” and called 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.”

His comments were a rare note of unity between Herzog and the ruling government, both vociferously opposed to the prospect of settlement goods being labeled.

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.

Raoul Wootliff and AFP contributed to this report.

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