EU orders consumer warning labels on goods produced in Israeli occupied lands

A Palestinian man watches Israeli heavy machinery as they demolish vacant apartment blocs by order of Israel's high court, in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit El near Ramallah July 29, 2015. © Mohamad Torokman
The European Commission has adopted new guidelines on labeling of products from Israeli-occupied Arab settlements. Brussels says the move is technical but Israel has called it discriminatory.

The European Commission "adopted this morning the Interpretative Notice on indication of origin of goods from the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967," Reuters quoted an EU official as saying.

EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen was called to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem to be reprimanded over the decision, Haaretz reports.

“Whereas the upcoming labeling guidelines are presented by the EU as a purely ‘technical measure’ designed to protect European consumers, there is no doubt that the main purpose of the measure is to exert political pressure upon Israel,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry said prior the EU decision.

“These measures are discriminatory in nature. It is intolerable that Israel is the only country that has been singled out by the EU for such a policy, despite the fact that there are over 200 disputed territories worldwide,” the statement added.

This move shouldn’t come as a surprise to Israel, US State Department Deputy spokesman Mark Toner said on Tuesday before the ruling was published.

“Israel continues to expand settlement activity. It should not come as a surprise that some in the international community seek to limit commercial ties to the settlements. This underscores the urgent need for Israel to change its policies with regard to settlements,” he said, quoted by the Jerusalem Post.

He avoided a direct question on whether the US approves the labeling of settlement products, saying the question is still being discussed with no guidelines published yet.

“Let’s let this process play itself out,” he said.

© United Nations

The territories have been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War, between Israel and neighboring Arab countries. UN Resolution 242 (1967) demands the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from the territories occupied in the conflict. Israel disagrees with the wording of the resolution, and says the territories are in dispute.