The European Union has postponed plans to introduce separate labeling for products from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported on Sunday.
Citing European diplomats and Israeli officials it did not identify, the paper reported that the plan, which had been due to be approved by EU foreign ministers later this week, will now not be put to ministers until the end of June.
Haaretz said that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is trying to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, intervened with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton at Israel’s request.
“Kerry and other senior US officials asked Ashton and her staff, as well as several major EU states, to put off full enforcement,” Haaretz wrote.
“According to two European diplomats, the Americans said enforcing the decision at this time would harm Kerry’s efforts to revive negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Kerry is due back in the region on Thursday on his fourth visit since taking office in February.
EU foreign ministers, including Britain’s William Hague and Laurent Fabius of France, said they would back the labeling initiative, in a letter obtained by AFP last month.
Signatories also included the chief diplomats of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain.
Britain and Denmark have been at the forefront of calls for clear and unambiguous labeling of settlement products.
Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including annexed Arab east Jerusalem, are illegal under international law. Goods produced in them are not eligible for the same preferential tariffs enjoyed by Israeli exports to the EU.
According to 2012 World Bank figures, the EU imports 230 million euros ($300 million) of goods a year from Israeli settlements -- or 15 times more than from Palestinians themselves.
Report: EU to delay labeling West Bank settler goods