EU sets guidelines on settlement products despite Israel fury

EU sets guidelines on settlement products despite Israel fury
The European Union's move to set guidelines for labelling products from illegal Jewish settlements has been welcomed by the Palestinians and greeted with fury in Israel.
2 min read
11 November, 2015
PLO believes labelling is a significant move toward a total boycott of Israeli settlements [Getty]

The Palestine Liberation Organisation on Wednesday said an EU decision to label goods from Israeli settlements was a positive step but did not go far enough.

"EU labelling of settlement products is a step in the right direction but insufficient," the PLO tweeted.

"Products of a war crime must be banned not just labelled."

The PLO Saeb Erekat also welcomed the decision, calling it a "significant move toward a total boycott of Israeli settlements, which are built illegally on occupied Palestinian lands."

"We believe that more actions are necessary to hold Israel accountable for the crimes it continues to commit against the land and people of Palestine," he said in a statement.

Israeli fury

Israeli officials, briefed that the decision was coming, were quick to denounce it.

The foreign ministry said it was a political move designed to pressure Israel over its settlements policy.

It summoned the EU ambassador to Israel. 

Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who was in Washington on an official visit, called the decision "hypocritical and a double standard", saying the EU was not taking similar steps in hundreds of territorial conflicts elsewhere in the world.

"The European Union should be ashamed of itself," he said.

Israelis are jittery as the campaign known as BDS, an acronym for boycott, divestment and sanctions appears to be gaining steam.  

The EU move is a set of guidelines for labelling products from Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories and annexed east Jerusalem as well as the Golan Heights, all occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. 

The settlements are illegal under international law and are a major stumbling block to peace efforts since those in the West Bank and east Jerusalem are built on land Palestinians see as part of their future state. 

Trade from settlements accounts for only a small portion of commerce between the European Union and Israel, but carries important symbolic weight.