Israel suspends EU contacts over settlement exports row

Israel's Foreign Ministry announces suspension of contacts with EU mediators in peace talks with Palestinians after EU demands settlement exports labeled

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel has suspended its contacts with EU bodies participating as brokers in the peace talks with the Palestinians, following a decision by the bloc to request the labeling of goods exported from settlements in the occupied West Bank.

According to a decision made by the European Commission on Nov. 11, goods exported from the illegal settlements to be sold in the EU markets can no longer bear the label “Made in Israel.”

Israel slammed the decision as "a discriminatory step that smells like a boycott," and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has since ordered the Israel's Foreign Ministry to reassess EU involvement in “everything that is connected to the diplomatic process with the Palestinians."

"Until completion of the reassessment, the prime minister has ordered a suspension of diplomatic contacts with the EU and its representatives in this matter,” foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said.

"It is inconceivable that Israel will hold dialogue with EU institutions on how to advance a peace process while the EU simultaneously initiates measures against Israel," he added.

However, contacts from individual EU countries such as Germany, France and Britain will not be affected by Israel’s decision.

Israel "will examine each case individually with the guiding principle of making sure Israel's interest vis-a-vis Europe and EU nations are not harmed," the statement said.

Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, is yet to comment on the announcement.

Around $200-$300 million is made from goods exported from illegal settlements each year, mainly from grapes, dates, wine, poultry, honey, olive oil and cosmetics.

The settlements in the West Bank, which was occupied by Israel in 1967, are considered illegal by international law.

TRTWorld and agencies