Foodstuffs produced in Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank should from now on carry a label clearly indicating their geographical provenance. That is the official judgment issued today by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The judgment is valid in all member states of the European Union.
Currently, all products of Israeli make and exported to Europe, carry the label of âmade in Israelâ. That includes those produced or manufactured in settlements in the occupied West Bank. However, that particular indication will no longer suffice. Foodstuffs produced in Israeli settlements will now be indicated as âMade in the West Bank (Israeli settlement)â or âMade in the West Bank (Palestinian product).â
The Court clarified that consumers have to be able to makeÂ âwell informed decisionâÂ when buying their groceries, also in relation to ethical matters and with respect for international law. If the label doesnât clearly mention the productâs provenance, the consumer could be misguided.
Since the settlements on the West Bank are illegal under international law and not considered to be under Israeli sovereignty, the European Commission already recommended back in 2015 that settlement products be given a separate label.
Condemnation and concurrence
France followed that recommendation in 2016. As a result, the Israeli wine producer Yaakov Berg went to court. His vineyard is located in the settlement âPsagotâ and he fears for his export to Europe.Â âThe idea behind the labels is a boycott with the intention of stopping people from buying our wine. Itâs antisemitic.â
The Israeli government, predictably, is also not a big fan of the new label. According to Israel, the European policy is unfair and discriminatory, since other nations with occupied territories, such as the Turkish occupation of Cyprus and Syria and the Russian territory in the Crimean peninsula, are not being treated in the same way.
Professor Eugene Kontorovich, the director of international law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum, stated thatÂ âThe European Court is approving putting a new kind of yellow star on Jewish-made products.âÂ He further added thatÂ âThis blatant discrimination makes it more urgent than ever for the Trump administration to defy Brussels by making official what has long been US practice, to allow these products to be labelled âMade in Israelâ.â
Opponents of the Israeli settlements are content with the Courtâs decision. Human Rights Watch calls itÂ âan important stepâ. According to them, consumers have to be able to know if the foodstuffs they buy are a product ofÂ âsevere breaches of international humanitarian lawâ. The EU itself perceives the Israeli settlements as a big obstacle on the way to a resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians.
Christopher Carlson is a full-time student of Religious Studies at Mount Mercy University, USA. He has been with the IMEMC since 2013. (firstname.lastname@example.org)