Israel blasts France’s move to label settlement goods

Following 2015 EU guidelines, Paris issues directive to clearly mark origin of Israeli products from beyond ’67 line

The Ahava factory in the West Bank settlement of Mitzpeh Shalem (Flash90)
The Ahava factory in the West Bank settlement of Mitzpeh Shalem (Flash90)

France published an official notification Thursday urging businesses to use labels to identify goods produced in the Israeli settlements, prompting a swift condemnation from Israel.

It was not immediately clear whether the notice published in the French Official Journal is binding for retailers or a recommendation. A press official with the trade ministry said late Thursday she was not aware of the notification and couldn’t immediately say whether it was mandatory or advisory.

In Nov. 2015, the European Union recommended that its member states put special labels on exports from the West Bank, but said the technical guidelines on the indication of origin were “in no way a boycott.”

Israel condemned France’s decision, saying it lends support to an international movement calling for a boycott of Israeli goods over its policies toward the Palestinians. The EU rejects such comparisons. It says the measure is meant to educate consumers about the origins of the products they are buying, and has rejected the international boycott movement against Israel.

The French notice says that “under international law the Golan Heights and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are not part of Israel.” So it states that goods from those regions must be marked as such and not as originating from Israel.

The notification states that labeling goods produced in the Israeli settlements as “made in the West Bank” or “made in the Golan Heights” is insufficient because that could “mislead” consumers. It says it is necessary to add, between parenthesis, the words “Israeli settlement” or similar wording. As a result, it urges labels such as “made in the West Bank (Israeli settlement)” or “made in the Golan Heights (Israeli settlement).”

Late Thursday, Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said “it’s unfortunate that France, which has a law against boycotts, is advancing steps like these which can be interpreted as giving a tail wind to radical actors and the boycott movement against Israel.”

The Israeli statement added: “Furthermore, it is incredible and even worrying that France chose to apply a double standard by [making such a law] only for Israel, while ignoring over 200 territorial disputes currently ongoing in the world, including those taking place on its threshold.”

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