Israeli officials burst with indignation since yesterday the EU issued the announced guidelines for the labelling of products from disputed territories.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s appeals to European countries’ leaders to stop the “discriminatory” process was not successful: not only did the EU made the labelling of certain products mandatory – above all food products such as fruit and vegetables – but it also repeated in the interpretive note that “the European Union, in line with international law, does not recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, namely the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and does not consider them to be part of Israel’s territory, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law”. ”The Union has made it clear that it will not recognise any changes to pre-1967 borders, other than those agreed by the parties to the Middle East Peace Process.”
At the one hand, European officials insist that European consumers have the right to know the source of goods previously labelled as Israeli, on the other, Israeli politicians have hazardously compared the guidelines to the Nazi era, suggesting that the “disguised antisemitism” is designed to put pressure on Israel over its continued settlement building in the disputed territories and the absence of a peace dialogue.
Two years ago, the guidelines publication was delayed at the request of the US, which was carrying out nine-month long peace negotiation process between Israel and the Palestinians, but when it failed, the pressure for the labelling actually mounted again, but Israeli officials are now starting to wonder why the EU decided that it should be done now.
Israeli ambassador warned that EU’s move won’t go unnoticed. “Frankly this is extremely disappointing, it’s unacceptable, and it’s not going to be taken lightly in Israel – this will have implications,” said the envoy, David Walzer. “We welcome EU contributions to the peace process – what comes tomorrow might force us to reconsider that. This cannot be described as business as usual or diplomatic disagreements”
However, more than 500 prominent Israeli figures, including former ambassadors, Israeli prize winners, and former MPs, signed a petition that welcomed the measures. “This kind of distinction can also serve to reduce the current levels of tension, fear and despair, among both Israelis and Palestinians.”said the petition, describing the guidelines as an important step that could help promote a peace agreement.