Israeli settlement products must be labeled as such, EU court rules

Israeli Yermi Greenhut harvests grapes in his vineyard in the Jewish Settlement Ofra in the West Bank

Foodstuffs originating from Israeli settlements must be marked as such, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Tuesday.

The European Union’s top court ruled that member states must oblige retailers to identify products made in Israeli settlements with special labels.

The issue has been politically divisive — Israel considers the labeling of settler products to be discriminatory and takes a highly critical view of it.

France’s top tribunal sought clarification from the ECJ after the country published guidelines in 2016 that products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Golan Heights must carry labels making their precise origin clear. The guidelines were challenged by the Organisation Juive Europeene (European Jewish Organisation) and Psagot, a company that runs vineyards in occupied territories.

The groups were concerned that such labeling would facilitate boycotts, such as those endorsed by the BDS movement, which Israel sees as anti-Semitic.

Palestinian Liberation Organization Secretary General Saeb Erekat called the ruling a “legal and political obligation.”

“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.

Ethical considerations

The ECJ found that simply indicating that goods originate in the state of Israel, as opposed to occupied territory, could mislead consumers about the fact that Israel “is present in the territories concerned as an occupying power and not as a sovereign entity,” it said in a statement.

It said product information must allow consumers to make informed choices relating “not only to health, economic, environmental and social considerations, but also to ethical considerations,” as well as the observance of international law.

The regions affected include the West Bank, annexed east Jerusalem, internationally accepted as occupied Palestinian land, and the Golan Heights, taken from Syria in 1967.

The EU does not accept these territories as belonging to Israeli territory.


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