December 10, 2019

EU Court Mandates Labeling of Israeli Settlement Products

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Nov. 12 that products emanating from Israeli settlements in the West Bank must be labeled as originating from Israeli-occupied territory, the Times of Israel reports.

The ruling is regarding a case that started in 2018 involving the French government attempting to force wine imported from Psagot Winery, which is located in the West Bank, as being from occupied territory. The ECJ ruling states that European Union (EU) regulations require all products to be labeled from their country of origin and the EU doesn’t consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be part of Israel. Additionally, the ruling stated that products can’t be simply labeled as originating from the West Bank because the consumer might think it came from a Palestinian.

Therefore, the ECJ concluded, “Foodstuffs originating in a territory occupied by the State of Israel must bear not only the indication of that territory but also, where those foodstuffs come from a locality or a group of localities constituting an Israeli settlement within that territory, the indication of that provenance.”

Lawfare Project Executive Director Brooke Goldstein, whose organization representation represented Psagot, 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.”

George Mason University Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich argued in a Twitter thread that the “EU does not [require] ‘Made in Moroccan Settlements’ labels, or any other such labels anywhere in the world.” In other words, the ECJ ruling is concocting “a ‘rule’ for Israel, and remembering everywhere else that the ‘rule’ has a silent footnote,” Kontorovich wrote.

Former Democratic New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who heads the Americans Against Antisemitism watchdog, similarly tweeted in response to the ECJ’s ruling, “Now do Turkey (occupies northern Cyprus/Syria), Russia (Crimea, Donetsk), Morocco (Sahara), China (Tibet), India/Pakistan (Kashmir)! Oh wait, they aren’t Jewish!”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center tweeted, “EU’s hubris and extreme anti-Israel bias can only be stopped if Congress confirms it violated US law #BDS.”

Jerusalem Post Editor-In-Chief Yaakov Katz tweeted, “As Israelis are holed up in bomb shelters across the country, Europe reminds us how it consistently stands on the wrong side of history.”

Palestinian Liberation Organization spokesman Saeb Erekat praised the ruling in a statement.

“Our demand is not only for the correct labeling reflecting the certificate of origin of products coming from illegal colonial-settlements, but for the banning of those products from international markets,” Erekat said.