European Court of Justice Advocate General Gerard Hogan (Twitter) Twitter
European Court of Justice Advocate General Gerard Hogan

Israeli officials have argued that such a policy is tantamount to a boycott against the Jewish State.

By United With Israel Staff 

A senior adviser to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) issued a non-binding legal opinion on Thursday that products made in territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war, when it was surrounded by much larger and far superior Arab armies, must be separately labeled as coming from that territory and should not be labeled as made in Israel.

The opinion is stated by Gerard Hogan, an Irish judge who has served as Advocate General of the ECJ since October 2018.

“There may be some consumers who object to the purchase of products emanating from the territories,” says a press release issued Thursday by the court on the advocate general’s decision.

“Some consumers may regard this manifest breach of international law as an ethical consideration that influences their consumer preferences and in respect of which they may require further information. Therefore…the absence of the indication of the country of origin or place of provenance of a product originating in a territory occupied by Israel and, in any event, a settlement colony, might mislead the consumer as to the true country of origin or place of provenance of the food,” the statement continues.

Israel rejects the assertion that its hold on the territory is a violation of international law both because of the hostile circumstances it faced when it captured these areas, when many Israelis feared that the future existence of the state was in question, and because of the historic Jewish connection to the land.

The territories captured includes the Old City of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights. Israel has since withdrawn from Gaza and Sinai. U.S. President Donald Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.

However, the European court’s advocate general states that “Israeli occupation and settlements could be ‘an objective factor which might affect the expectations of the reasonable consumer.’ In this light…the addition of the terms ‘Israeli settlements’ to the geographical identification of the origin of the products is the only way to provide correct and objective but also accurate, clear and easily understandable information for the consumer.

“Therefore, the Advocate General concludes,” says the press statement, “that the Court should rule that EU law requires for a product originating in a territory occupied by Israel since 1967, the indication of the geographical name of this territory and the indication that the product comes from an Israeli settlement if that is the case.”

Israeli officials have argued that such a policy is tantamount to a boycott against the Jewish State because it singles out any “Israeli settlement” and indicates a preference for Palestinian businesses in Judea and Samaria. Officials in Jerusalem have also noted that various Israeli businesses in Judea and Samaria provide employment for Palestinian Arabs.

In addition, they say, the European advocate general’s opinion runs contrary to Israel’s fight against the global BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement, which includes activists who question Israel’s right to exist, and is also contrary to the trend in the U.S., where many states have passed legislation or resolutions against the BDS movement.