Made in Israel

Israelis and Palestinians work side by side at factory in Judea. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israelis and Palestinians work side by side at factory in Judea. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The EU will begin labeling Israeli products made in Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights next month. While targeting Israel’s economy, it is in fact hitting Palestinians harder.

The European Union (EU) will start labeling Israeli products manufactured in Judea and Samaria as well as in the Golan Heights “next month,” an unnamed “senior EU official” told IDF Radio Sunday.

By labeling the products, the EU is singling them out for boycotts in an attempt to generate pressure on Israel to accept a diplomatic process that could endanger its security.

The official said that the program has been under deliberation for two and a half years and will finally come into effect in October. He added that there were some technical and legal details that need to be ironed out, such as how to mark the products, but that these issues should be resolved by next month.

The EU official told IDF Radio that he detected a slowdown in construction in Judea and Samaria, which is supposed to be one of the outcomes of the boycott. He welcomed this development and commended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for this supposed newly adopted policy.

He said the EU was also taking into consideration the fact that the Israeli government may declare a boost in construction in Judea and Samaria in response to a boycott on Israeli products, and he threatened that such a move would generate more hostile moves from the EU. “If this is the case, we will continue with our moves against the settlements [Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria], and the labeling of products will only be the beginning.”

Palestinian Workers the First to Suffer from a Boycott

The official also said that he was encouraged by the fact that some companies have already announced that they would leave industrial parks in Judea and Samaria. Although Palestinians would lose their jobs as a result of the EU’s moves, Israelis would lose their jobs as well, and then the incentive to live in Judea and Samaria would diminish, he explained.

A Palestinian woman works at the Israeli SodaStream factory. (Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90)

A Palestinian woman works at the Israeli SodaStream factory. (Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90)

In fact, the EU official is wrong in his assessment. Whereas Israelis would be able to find jobs elsewhere, Palestinians would be forced to look for work in the failing Palestinian economy, joining a high percentage of the Palestinian population that is unemployed.

“We are just trying to correct what the Israeli government is doing,” the official claimed. “It is giving financial incentives to living over the Green Line [in Judea and Samaria], and we are trying to balance that.”

SodaStream, which produces machines for making carbonated drinks, has been targeted by an international campaign calling for  the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israeli companies. Citing financial reasons, SodaStream announced it was closing its factory in Judea and Samaria last year and moving it to the Negev.

It’s propaganda. It’s politics. It’s hate. It’s anti-Semitism. It’s all the bad stuff we don’t want to be part of,” CEO Daniel Birnbaum said.

SodaStream employed up to 600 Palestinians at its previous factory and sought to transfer their jobs to the plant in the Negev, but, Birnbaum said, Israel has granted only 130 work permits so far due to security issues. Many likely will lose their jobs.

“All the people who wanted to close [SodaStream’s factory in Judea] are mistaken… They didn’t take into consideration the families,” said Ali Jafar, a shift manager from a Palestinian village who has been employed at SodaStream for two years.

The EU’s decision to further boycott Israeli products is likely to generate many such stories.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel