The European Union published new guidelines on Wednesday for labeling products made in Israeli settlements, a move Brussels said was technical but Israel branded "discriminatory" and damaging to peace efforts with the Palestinians.
Drawn up over three years by the European Commission, the guidelines mean Israeli producers must explicitly label farm goods and other products that come from settlements built on land occupied by Israel if they are sold in the European Union.
The decision comes at a time of heightened tension between Israel and the Palestinians, amid a wave of deadly attacks by Palestinians targeting Israelis. The violence, in which 12 Israelis and more than 70 Palestinians have been killed, is in part fueled by the occupation and the growth of settlements.
Israeli officials, briefed that the decision was coming, were quick to denounce it. The foreign ministry said it was a political move designed to pressure Israel over its settlements policy. It summoned the EU ambassador to Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in Washington on an official visit, called the decision "hypocritical and a double standard", saying the EU was not taking similar steps in hundreds of territorial conflicts elsewhere in the world.
"The European Union should be ashamed of itself," he said. "We do not accept the fact that Europe is labelling the side being attacked by terrorist acts."
The EU's position is that the lands Israel has occupied since the 1967 Middle East war - including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights - are not part of the internationally recognized borders of Israel.
As such, goods from there cannot be labelled "Made in Israel" and should be labelled as coming from settlements, which the EU considers illegal under international law.
"It's an indication of origin, not a warning label," the EU ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen, told Reuters.
Britain, Belgium and Denmark already affix labels to Israeli goods, differentiating between those from Israel proper and those, particularly fruits and vegetables, that come from the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank. Now, all 28 EU member states would have to apply the same labelling.
While there is no EU official wording, goods must carry the word "settlement" on the tag when sold in European shops. If an Israeli farmer refuses, a retail outlet can attach the label themselves, as the European Commission has sufficient information about where goods come from.
Israel's foreign ministry said the move singled Israel out and was potentially harmful to long-standing peace efforts.
"We regret that the EU has chosen, for political reasons, to take such an exceptional and discriminatory step, inspired by the boycott movement," it said in a statement.
"Product labeling will strengthen the radical elements advocating a boycott against Israel and denying Israel's right to exist, contradicting positions the EU publicly opposes."
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر