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Israel objects to French labelling of settlement goods

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem November 2016.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem November 2016. Reuters/Ronen Zvulun

France angered Israel after it announced new guidelines on Thursday for the labelling of goods from settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

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The French guidelines intend to enforce pre-existing European Union regulations on labelling goods from the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Golan Heights.

An advisory published on a French government website states that these areas, “under international law…are not a part of Israel”.

The guidelines further stipulate that goods produced in these areas must be labelled as coming from an “Israeli settlement”.

France says it wants to avoid “misleading the consumer” about the origins of certain products.

Israel furious

The Israel foreign ministry said it “regrets that France, which actually has a law against boycotts, is advancing measures that can be interpreted as encouraging radical elements”.

Israel has also accused France of a “double standard”, as the Western European country has focused on Israel while “ignoring the other 200 territorial disputes around the world”.

The EU’s 2015 guidelines

The diplomatic row dates back to November 2015, when the European Union’s executive body adopted a motion requiring products from Israeli settlements to be labelled as such.

At the time an Israeli minister referred to the motion as “disguised anti-Semitism”.
With the publication of its guidelines on Thursday, France has become the first individual member state to issue its own measures regarding the labelling of settlement goods since the EU backed the motion last year.

“EU states tend to act like a herd so yesterday’s move may lead others to follow suit,” said Hugh Lovatt, Israel coordinator at the think tank European Council on Foreign Relations.

“The question is whether other member states follow the French example.”
Lovatt speculated that France’s decision was a strong-arm response to Israel’s refusal to attend a Paris-led peace conference.

Paris had hoped to organise an international conference by the end of the year to facilitate the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which has been stalled since 2014.
 

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