MIDDLE EAST

Netanyahu invokes memory of Nazi past over EU labeling settlement goods

A worker places stickers on wine bottles while packaging them for export at Shiloh Wineries, north of the West Bank city of Ramallah November 8, 2015. (Reuters)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday likened the European Union’s decision to label goods from Israeli settlements to the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses.

Israel in retaliation called off a number of scheduled EU meetings.

“The labelling of products of the Jewish state by the European Union brings back dark memories, Europe should be ashamed of itself,” he said as he wrapped up a visit to Washington.

“It took an immoral decision... This will not advance peace, it will certainly not advance truth and justice. It’s wrong,” he said in an English-language video clip posted on Facebook.

He drew the same comparison in September when he said that Israelis “remember history and we remember what happened when the products of Jews were labelled in Europe.”

After the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, they imposed a boycott against the country’s Jews, issuing orders and posting signs telling the public not to buy from them.

The EU move is a set of guidelines for labelling products from Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories and annexed east Jerusalem as well as the Golan Heights, all occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.

The settlements are deemed illegal under international law and considered a major stumbling block to peace efforts since those in the West Bank and east Jerusalem are built on land Palestinians see as part of their future state.

“Of the hundreds of territorial conflicts around the world it chose to single out Israel and Israel alone,” Netanyahu said, adding that labelling would not hurt Israel’s economy but would affect jobs for Palestinian workers employed in the settlements.

Israel’s foreign ministry summoned the EU envoy to the country over the decision and called the step “discriminatory.”

EU ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen was informed that Israeli officials would not attend a number of scheduled EU meetings, the ministry said.

“Because of the latest EU decision, Israel is suspending its diplomatic dialogue with the EU in various forums which had been scheduled to take place in the coming weeks,” it said.

On Tuesday, in anticipation of the move, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz called the labelling measure “disguised anti-Semitism”.

Trade from settlements accounts for only a small portion of commerce between the EU and Israel, but carries important symbolic weight.

The Palestine Liberation Organization said the EU decision was a positive step but that it did not go far enough, calling for an outright ban on such commerce.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 11 November 2015 KSA 21:51 - GMT 18:51
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Netanyahu invokes memory of Nazi past over EU labeling settlement goods
Israel in retaliation called off a number of scheduled EU meetings
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