ASHKELON, Israel - The European Union’s top court ruled Tuesday that all EU countries must put special labels on Israeli products coming from West Bank settlement communities.
The European Court of Justice insists that all products made in settlement communities must have an easily identifiable label and that a simple “Made in Israel” tag is not enough.
The move is sure to anger Israeli leaders who argue that such labeling of Israeli products is anti-Semitic.
Israel captured the West Bank (biblical Judea and Samaria) and eastern Jerusalem during the 1967 war. Israel has been settling Jewish families there ever since.
Palestinian leaders oppose the growth of settlement communities because they claim the areas as part of a future Palestinian state.
The EU and other members of the international community do not recognize Israel’s annexation of the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. They oppose the settlements and say Israel is violating international law by establishing Jewish communities in Israel’s biblical heartland.
The ECJ said in a statement Tuesday that settlement communities “give concrete expression to a policy of population transfer conducted by that State outside its territory, in violation of the rules of general international humanitarian law.”
The court also said that any EU country’s failure to identify the point of origin of products meant that “consumers have no way of knowing, in the absence of any information capable of enlightening them in that respect, that a foodstuff comes from a locality or a set of localities constituting a settlement established in one of those territories in breach of the rules of international humanitarian law.”
Palestinian Liberation Organization Secretary General Saeb Erekat applauded the ruling.
"Our demand is not only for the correct labelling reflecting the certificate of origin of products coming from illegal colonial-settlements, but for the banning of those products from international markets," he said in a statement.
Brooke Goldstein, who heads the Lawfare Project told The Times of Israel that the EU court’s decision will “codify religious discrimination into law.”
“There is no reason for products produced by Muslims and Jews in the same geographic place to be labeled differently. In fact, treating people differently because of their religion is the definition of bigotry and we know what happens when Europe goes down that track,” she said.