16 EU ministers endorse ‘Made in the West Bank’ label for Israeli products

European Union (EU) flags in front of the European Commission building in Brussels. Credit: Amio Cajander via Wikimedia Commons.

(JNS.org) Sixteen European Union (EU) foreign ministers have signed a letter calling on the EU’s foreign policy chief to label Israeli products made beyond the 1949 armistice line as “Made in the West Bank.”

In the letter to EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, the foreign ministers said that the proposal would help consumers from being “misled by false information.”

“European consumers must indeed have confidence in knowing the origin of goods they are purchasing,” the ministers wrote. “Green Line Israel and Palestinian producers will benefit from this.”

The initiative was led by Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders and was supported by ministers from the U.K., France, Spain, Denmark, Ireland, Croatia, Malta, the Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Slovenia, Italy, Luxembourg, Finland, and Austria. 

EU ministers from a number of strong Israeli allies, mainly in Eastern Europe—including Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Cypress, Romania—did not sign the letter. 

The letter cites a previous one advocating the same labeling measure that was sent to Mogherini’s predecessor, Catherine Ashton, in 2013. At the time, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Ashton to put the initiative on hold while he pursued peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Yair Lapid, the head of Israel's Yesh Atid party, called the EU ministers' letter "essentially a de facto call to boycott Israel." 

"There is no difference between products made beyond the Green Line and products made inside the Green Line," he said. "This is an irresponsible initiative with the potential to be disastrous for the Israeli economy. It is a stain on the EU, and the state of Israel needs to fight it in order to prevent this dangerous process." 

Posted on April 16, 2015 .