EU to label Israeli settlement goods

EU plans to label products made in Jewish settlements and to ban dealing with Israeli banks based in occupied West Bank

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The European Union prepares to label Israeli goods produced in settlements in the occupied West Bank, according to a paper by the European Council on Foreign Relations.

The move has been on the EU agenda in recent years, angering the Israeli government, and it reportedly includes targeting Israeli banks.

The European Council paper argues that the EU has to distinguish between Israeli goods coming from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Israel has occupied since 1967.

The European Union has long criticised Israel's settlement activities in occupied Palestinian lands, and various bodies have called for a unified stance against the practice. According to the media reports, the latest proposal by the Council includes steps against Israeli banks, loans and mortgages.

“Under its own regulations and principles, Europe cannot legally escape from its duty to differentiate between Israel and its activities in the occupied Palestinian territories,” says the report quoted by Reuters.

Titled "EU Differentiation and Israeli Settlements," the report says by taking up a position against illegal settlements, the EU will force Israel to review its relations with the Union, as well as its attitude towards talks with the Palestinians over a two-state solution.

The new plan aims to label goods from Jewish settlements and exempt products with duty-free status in the EU under an agreement with Israel. It is also bans dealing with Israeli firms that do business or are based in the occupied territories.

The new proposal is based on the European Commission guidelines from 2013, but it will also include loans and mortgages. If it comes into effect, an Israeli-European will not be able use a settlement property for getting a loan from any European banks.

However, the new proposition has not yet the answered some lingering questions over tax-exempt European charities that support activities in the settlements; qualifications from Israeli academic institutions based in the West Bank,  as well as dealing with some state institutions based in East Jerusalem.

The EU had proposed measures against European firms operating in occupied Palestinian land in November 2014 after peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed when Fatah and Hamas authorities declared a unity government in response to continued illegal settlement building by Israel in occupied areas.

A bloody onslaught on Gaza erupted just a few months later, resulting in the deaths of around 2,200 Palestinians, at least 66 percent of whom were civilians. Meanwhile, 72 Israelis were also killed, mainly soldiers.

Palestinians are seeking statehood for the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as the proposed capital.

TRTWorld and agencies