(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Israel on Thursday sharply condemned a new initiative in the Netherlands directing businesses to label products originating in Judea and Samaria, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as separate to those produced in Israel, removing obstacles for unsuspecting European shoppers.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Thursday that “If the Europeans claim that labeling 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 that “products from the settlements beyond the Green Line, 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.”
On 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 when making purchases by labeling products from the settlements differently than those from Israel.
The directive calls for the labeling 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 labeling, as opposed to importers, they will not be punished for not complying, nor is it illegal to import products from the settlements.
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 settlement activities in the West Bank.”
Holland joins other EU countries, such as Britain and Denmark, both of which also recommended such labeling to retailers. Last May, South Africa also directed retailers not to mark products made in the settlements with the same label as those made in Israel.