December 7, 2019

State Department Condemns EU Court’s Mandate of Israeli Settlement Product Labeling

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 30: U.S. Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo meets with Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (not seen) at the U.S. Department of State on September 30, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images)

The U.S. State Department condemned the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) Nov. 12 ruling mandating food and beverage products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be labeled as being from the settlements rather than Israel or the West Bank.

State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement that the ECJ’s ruling was biased against Israel and furthers the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

“The United States unequivocally opposes any effort to engage in BDS, or to otherwise economically pressure, isolate, or otherwise delegitimize Israel,” Ortagus said. “The path toward resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict is through direct negotiations. America stands with Israel against efforts to economically pressure, isolate, or delegitimize it.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for standing with Israel on the matter.

“While the [European Union] chooses not to join the sanctions on Iran, it imposed economic-diplomatic restrictions on Israel,” Netanyahu said.

The ECJ ruling states that EU regulations require all food and beverage products to be labeled with their country of origin and the EU doesn’t recognize Israeli settlements in the West Bank as being part of Israel. The ECJ also concluded that consumers need to know whether they come from an Israeli or a Palestinian.

Lawfare Project Executive Director Brooke Goldstein said in a statement, “The decision to codify religious discrimination into law is embarrassing for Europe. There is no legitimate 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. Muslims living under Palestinian Authority rule are as much ‘settlers’ as are Jews—they are both legally allowed to settle under the same treaty, the Oslo Accords.”

The Times of Israel (TOI) reported that a study from the European Middle East Project – which is a Pro-Palestinian organization, per TOI – found that around 90% of wines emanating from Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Syria’s Golan Heights don’t follow the EU regulations the ECJ upheld.

The Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal argued in a Nov. 14 analysis piece that the idea of labeling products as being from Israeli settlements came from “Germany’s main neo-Nazi party.”