EU “guilty of double standards”

November 13, 2015 Agencies
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The World Jewish Congress’ (WJC) says the European Union is guilty of applying “blatant double standards” after the European Commission, the EU’s executive, adopted new guidelines requiring the mandatory labelling of certain products made in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

Robert Singer

Robert Singer

This follows condemnation of the decision by Benjamin Netanyahu but support for it from the Obama administration.

WJC CEO Robert Singer said Brussels was deliberately singling out Israel for special measures while ignoring other disputed areas in the world.

Singer questioned the EU’s motives: “Let’s not delude ourselves: These guidelines are more than just a technical matter, as some in Brussels claim. Rather, they are misguided attempt to hamper trade with Israel and to exert political pressure on the government in Jerusalem. This does nothing to advance the peace process. On the contrary, all it will do is strengthen those hardliners in the Middle East and in Europe who reject the Jews’ right to live in peace in the land of Israel.”

Robert Singer went on to say: “There is nothing to be said in principle against the labelling of products, but doing so in an arbitrary and discriminatory fashion is not only wrong, it’s possibly illegal. We urge the European Union to abide by the international trade agreements it signed and to not treat its trading partners differently, based on political considerations. All disputed areas in the world must be treated in the same fashion, and the same rules must be applied.

“Clearly, the territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War are disputed, but that does not mean that Israeli companies operating there should be considered illegal entities. While the EU guidelines grant the use of labels such as ‘Made in Palestine’ or ‘Made in the West Bank’ for products made by Palestinian-owned companies operating in the territories, they force Israeli companies, many of which provide a livelihood to Palestinian workers, to add ‘Israeli settlements’ to the label. Why impose two different labels for one and the same place of origin?

“Whoever believes that such measures will trigger any momentum for changing the status quo in Israel and in the Palestinian Territories is misguided,” Singer declared.

On Wednesday, the European Commission adopted a document called ‘Interpretative notice on indication of origin of goods from the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967’ which imposes that all Israeli settlement products for which the country of origin has to be mentioned carry distinctive labels. In future, such products cannot be labelled ‘Product of Israel’, or the equivalent thereof, anymore. Labelling of other products from settlements will remain voluntary.

On Monday, 36 US senators urged the EU not to adopt the guidelines. Singer lamented that this Commission had pushed this measure through without taking into account the views of its major Western partners.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “The EU decision is hypocritical and constitutes a double standard; it singles out Israel and not the 200 other conflicts around the world. The EU has decided to label only Israel, and we are not prepared to accept the fact that Europe is labeling the side that is being attacked by terrorism. The Israeli economy is strong and will withstand this; those who will be hurt will be those Palestinians who work in Israeli factories. The EU should be ashamed.”

He added: “The labelling of products of the Jewish state by the European Union brings back dark memories. Europe should be ashamed of itself. It took an immoral decision. Of the hundreds of territorial conflicts around the world, it chose to single out Israel and Israel alone, while it’s fighting with its back against the wall against the wave of terror. The European Union is not going to hurt the Israeli economy. It’s strong enough to weather this, but it’s the Palestinian workers in Israeli enterprises in Judea and Samaria that will be hurt. This will not advance peace; it will certainly not advance truth and justice. It’s wrong. Europe should be ashamed of itself.”

JNS.org reports that the Obama administration has expressed support for the new European Union guidelines requiring member states to stop carrying the “Made in Israel” label for products made in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.

“We do not believe that labeling the origin of products is equivalent to a boycott,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said. “And as you know, we do not consider settlements to be part of Israel. We do not view labeling the origin of products as being from the settlements as a boycott of Israel.”

Toner described the EU’s move as “technical guidelines” that would help European consumers understand the origin of products.

“Consumers will then be aware of the origin of a product when purchasing it, as they are made aware for products across the globe,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has harshly criticized the EU’s labeling initiative, saying that the decision is “hypocritical and constitutes a double standard.”

In Australia the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) joined with B’nai Brith International in stating that they are highly disconcerted that the European Union has approved and will soon publish guidelines that European countries can use to label Israeli products produced over the pre-1967 lines. The resolution introducing the guidelines was passed by the European Parliament in September and is an affirmation of the discriminatory goals of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

ADC Chairman Dr Dvir Abramovich and Dan Mariaschin, Executive Vice President of B’nai B’rith International issued the following statement:

“This latest anti-Israel measure rewards the Palestinians for their refusal to engage in constructive dialogue with Israel and puts off the possibility of resolution on this issue. It also encourages and reinforces the Palestinian narrative at a dire time when anti-Semitic incitement is thriving and there have been more than 60 knife, gun and car attacks on Israeli Jews. The European Union would better spend its time encouraging Palestinians to get to the negotiating table, as these guidelines only prolong the process, rather than resolve it. Also at play with this issue are the intellectual dishonesty and highly questionable intentions behind this decision. There are many other disputed regions in the world, but there is no movement to label products—making the double standard of this move apparent..“

 

Comments

One Response to “EU “guilty of double standards””
  1. Jan Poddebsky says:

    Terrorists attack Paris and the world mourns.
    Terrorists attack Paris and Obama names it an attack on all humanity and its values of freedom. He stands in solidarity with the French.
    Terrorists continue to attack Israel and the EU orchestrates virtual sanctions against Jews in Israel.
    Terrorists continue to attack Israel and Obama endangers the lives of its 6 million citizens by empowering Iran.
    Israel NEEDS our solidarity.

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