EU to publish guidelines for labeling goods produced in West Bank settlements
Brussels will publish guidelines next Wednesday for the labeling of goods produced in the West Bank and sold in shops across the continent, Israeli daily Haaretz reports.
A European official told i24news' diplomatic correspondent Tal Shalev that the guidelines could be published "any day now."
In response to the EU's move, an Israeli official said that "Israel has been preparing for this for a while, to deal with it diplomatically. We are trying to convince the EU and member states that this is a wrong decision, with a clear discriminating aspect, which does not help the diplomatic process at all. On the contrary, European directives -at this time - are a prize for Palestinian terror and rejectionism and encourage boycotts. We hope Europe will understand these directives are useless."
At recent talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and EU Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, the Israeli leader asked for the publication for the guidelines to be postponed in light of the recent escalation of the security situation. Netanyahu has also asked British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to intervene in the matter, but both made it clear that they could not stop the process.
"At this point, no one in Israel and almost nobody in the European Union has details of the document," a senior Israeli official who asked to remain anonymous due to diplomatic sensitivity, told Haaretz. "We've been trying for a long time to find out what's in the guidelines, but have had no luck. Senior sources in most major countries in Europe do not know what they say."
In April, France and 15 other European Union countries urged the bloc to clearly label products sold in member countries that originated in Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories and annexed east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, all occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.
Tzipi Hotovly, Israel's deputy foreign minister, said the Jewish state would not accept "discrimination" between goods produced in different parts of its territory.
"Labelling of products amounts to a boycott," she said, hours after the European parliament voted in favor of a non-binding resolution to label products from Jewish settlements.
In September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu likened the EU parliament's motion to label products from Jewish settlements to the Nazi era.
"We remember history and we remember what happened when the products of Jews were labelled in Europe," the premier said in a statement issued by his office.
Israel's Army Radio reported on Monday morning that the Municipality of Jerusalem has suspended all construction on the eastern side of the capital. Although the report was denied by the Municipality, if true, the controversial residential plan to build in Ramat Shlomo will be affected by this decision.
According to the report, the construction freeze will apply to both Jewish and Palestinian homes. The order for the freeze will be submitted to the Local Committee on Planning and Building this week.
The decision is timely, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit US President Obama next week in a bid to ease tensions with Washington, in the midst of a wave of terror that has enveloped Jerusalem.
However, an official from the Prime Minister's Office told i24news that "the Prime Minister has nothing to do with the decision to freeze East Jerusalem construction, it is a decision made purely by the Jerusalem Municipality and its planning committees"
A statement by The Jerusalem Municipality said that "the Municipality continues to advance construction throughout the city for all populations. The plans will be presented later."
Army Radio reported that the committee was supposed to gather on Wednesday to approve dozens of housing units in Ramat Shlomo, which is mostly an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood.
After Netanyahu solidified his narrow right-wing coalition in May, the United States and Peace Now denounced the approval of plans to build 900 new homes there.
The original announcement caused a diplomatic row in 2010, when the Jerusalem Municipality made the plans to build beyond the 1949 Armistice (Green) Line public while US Vice President Joe Biden was visiting.
Aside from the United States, other governments and international organizations condemned the decision at the time, saying that it was not constructive towards building peace between Israelis and Palestinians. In order to calm international pressure at the time, Netanyahu told Obama that building in Ramat Shlomo would not start at least for the next two years.
In June 2012, the District Planning and Construction Committee of Israel's Interior Ministry approved the plan. At the time, Yair Gabai, a city councilman and member of the panel applauded the decision and said that this was “the first in a series of essential developments that will add to the prosperity of Jerusalem, help curb emigration from the capital, and strengthen Israeli sovereignty in all parts of the city.”
In response, the Palestinian Authority’s minister of national economy, Hassan Abu Libda, condemned the move and said it was a “resumption of settlement activity.”
In 2013, when the NIS 62.4 million budget ($16.1 million dollars) for the project was approved, David Hadari, the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem at the time, said that he considered it “Jerusalem’s vaccination shot against those who think about dividing it somehow.”
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This is Israel, who dares to have the right to tell Israel where it can build homes for its population.
This is Israel? You don't live in Israel, James. ..... and if you lived in East Jerusalem you still wouldn't live in Israel .... you would live in illegally occupied East Jerusalem.
Nope Wrong again Michael Farmer The whole of Jerusalem is Israel that's a fact. Your facts are based on nothing really.