Israel’s reprisal bill targeting settlement labelers in EU put on hold – for now

Jewish settler Refael Morris stands at an observation point overlooking the West Bank village of Duma, near Yishuv Hadaat, an unauthorised Jewish settler outpost January 5, 2016. © Ronen Zvulun
Israeli ministers have reviewed a draft bill demanding the labeling of products from EU countries which label goods from Israeli-occupied Arab settlements. While the bill was put on hold, it is not dead, its proponents believe.

The bill was introduced by members of the Knesset (MK) Shuli Moalem-Refaeli and Yinon Magal – both from the Jewish Home religious Zionist party. The draft law proposed mark the products from countries that label Israeli goods with the following: “Attention: This product is manufactured in a country that chose to label goods from the State of Israel”.

“The State of Israel is liable to face a wave of boycotts by European countries due to pro-Palestinian pressure,” the bill said, Haaretz reported.

“The State of Israel has to stand strong and defend itself to prevent such a situation. This bill does not pretend to be the only solution, but it is an attempt to set a tough policy regarding those who try to harm Israel's status and power,” it added.

Violators of the law in case of its adoption would be fined NIS 226,000 (about $56,000).

“The countries must know that, in response, the Israeli consumer may boycott their products,” Moalem-Refaeli said as cited by the Jerusalem Post.

On Sunday Moalem-Refaeli removed her draft law from the Ministerial Committee for Legislation’s docket at the request of the Economy Ministry who feared that the bill may violate international trade agreements, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Moalem-Refaeli’s spokesman said, however, that the MK will continue to promote her draft bill.

The European Commission decided to label Israeli goods produced in the territories occupied after the 1967 Six-Day war – West Bank, East Jerusalem as well as the Golan Heights. The European Commission said the labels are a technical matter, while Israel negatively reacted to the decision calling it discriminatory. In response Israel has already suspended contacts with the EU in the Palestinian peace process.