JERUSALEM — Israel last Thursday sharply condemned an initiative in the Netherlands directing businesses to label products originating in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as separate from those produced in Israel.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor, according to Israel Hayom, said, “If the Europeans claim that labelling products made in the settlements is intended only to inform the consumer that the product comes from a disputed area, they should also be consistent and mark any product from disputed territories in Europe and around the world. But if the move denigrates Israel, and only Israel, it is clearly a manifestation of blatant discrimination and thus inherently wrong.”
Interior Minister Eli Yishai also responded to the Dutch government initiative on Thursday, saying, “Products from the settlements beyond the Green Line [Israel’s pre-1967 borders], just like those made within the Green Line, are proud blue and white products. The State of Israel will stand as one entity against any attempt to boycott its products.”
Last Wednesday, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs issued a directive to all retail chains in the country, instructing them to assist consumers in making fully knowledgeable decisions in stores by labelling products from Jewish communities beyond the 1967 Green Line differently than products from the rest of Israel.
The directive calls for the labelling of fresh products not as made in Israel, but as made in “Israeli settlements in the Golan Heights, east Jerusalem, the West Bank or in Palestinian territories.”
Though retailers are responsible for the labelling, as opposed to importers, they will not be punished for not complying, nor is it illegal to import products from the Jewish communities in question. The move follows a Feb. 27 report written by European Union mission heads in Jerusalem and Ramallah recommending that EU countries “prevent” all financial transactions that support Israel’s activities in those communities.
Holland joins other EU countries, such as Britain and Denmark, both of which also recommended such labelling to retailers. Last May, South Africa also directed retailers not to mark products made in Jewish communities beyond the Green Line with the same label as those made in the rest of Israel.