Israeli minister: EU labelling settlement products 'a red line'

Israeli minister: EU labelling settlement products 'a red line'
Tzipi Hotovely said the EU's labelling of products from settlements illegally built on occupied land would be the "epitome of boycotts".
2 min read
28 September, 2015
Hotovely said the move was as if it were a boycott of Israel itself [Getty]
A senior Israeli politician warned that the EU's declared intention to label Israeli goods produced in the settlements in the occupied West Bank was a "red line" for Israel, the Times of Israel reported on Sunday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Israel would regard the move as "the epitome of boycotts".

"Europe is Israel's number one trade partner, which means that not only we have something to lose, they, too, have something to lose," the newspaper reported her saying.

Countries that decided to label settlement products would no longer be considered by Jerusalem to be significant players in the Middle East conflict, she added.

The economic fall-out for Israel is likely to be marginal, as the settlements' exports are less than one percent of Israel's total exports to the EU
EU parliamentarians overwhelmingly supported a motion encouraging labels on goods produced in the occupied territories of the Golan Heights, the West Bank and East Jerusalem earlier this month.

At present, goods produced in settlements from these areas are only marked with labels indicating they were "made in Israel" when they are sold in the EU.

Hotovely was highly critical of the move to encourage labelling. "We see it as a boycott of Israel for all intents and purposes," she said. "We view it as a slippery slope."

The EU's motion calls for products from the occupied territories to be labelled as such, not banned from markets in any way.

In any case, any possible economic fall out for Israel is also likely to be marginal, as the settlements' exports to the EU are less than one percent of Israel's total exports to the EU, the Times of Israel reported.

Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, now home to more than 500,000 Israelis, are regarded as illegal by the international community and a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids the transfer of the occupying power's population into the occupied territory.

However, Hotovely, said that, while the EU wanted to make the point that the West Bank was not part of Israel, the handover of the West Bank wasn't "even on the list of options we're offering the Palestinians" and will remain under "de facto [Israeli] sovereignty".

Hotovely is effectively Israel's acting foreign minister as the post is currently unfilled.