Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Friday evoked the memory of the Holocaust in his criticism of European plans to label products from the settlements, 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.
The foreign ministers of 16 of the European Union’s 28 member states recently sent a letter to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini asking her to promote the labeling of settlement-made products in store chains throughout Europe.
Liberman called the plan “hypocritical, sanctimonious and cynical,” noting that the murder and expulsion of Palestinians by Islamic State in Syria was “going by quietly” in Europe.
“No European foreign minister has demanded an emergency meeting of EU diplomats, of the EU, of the UN Security Council. Other than a few public statements nothing is being done,” Liberman told Israel Radio, in reference to the crisis in the Yarmouk refugee camp. The minister also noted the immediacy of the Iranian nuclear threat as well as the crisis in Yemen and admonished EU diplomats for choosing to focus on Israel at such a time.
“I have a suggestion for them on how to label (the products),” he said. “They can…label all products from Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights with a yellow star. I think that is extremely fitting to the cynical and hypocritical position expressed in this letter.”
The foreign minister told Israel Radio that, if he retained his post, his ministry’s first task upon the formation of the new government would be mending fractured ties with Washington, warning that Israel was going to pay a heavy price on the global stage for its strained relationship with the Obama administration.
Among those who signed the EU letter were the foreign ministers of the UK, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Croatia, Portugal, Sweden, Slovenia, Luxembourg and Malta, as well as from Sebastian Kurz, Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs. Germany wasn’t among the signatories.
The ministers wrote in the letter, which was first published by the Israeli daily Haaretz, that issuing the guidelines to all the EU member states is a means of preserving the two-state solution.
The EU prepared to take a similar measure two years ago, but postponed it because of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
A leaked EU report last month suggested that sanctions on Israel should be considered for its continued construction in “sensitive areas” of Jerusalem. One of the recommendations listed in the report was the labeling of West Bank products.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.