Israeli diplomats are fighting to postpone or cancel an EU move that would be financially and diplomatically damaging to Israel.
Israel has launched intensive diplomatic efforts to try stopping, or at least postponing, a planned European Union (EU) initiative to label goods that originate from Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, thus singling them out for boycotting, senior officials told Ha’aretz.
The three officials, who asked not to be identified because of diplomatic sensitivity, said the Foreign Ministry was leading the efforts through Israeli embassies in Europe and especially through its mission to the EU in Brussels. According to the officials who spoke to Haaretz, the labeling of the products has been the main issue on the Foreign Ministry’s agenda over recent weeks.
Israeli diplomats fear that the labeling will be put to a vote by the EU and implemented in the coming weeks.
Over the past two weeks, Israel’s ambassador to the EU, David Walzer, and his deputy, Ronen Gil-Or, have been in contact with the 28 European commissioners, Haaretz reports, arguing that the “current timing is not suitable for such a decision.”
The Foreign Ministry hopes at least to postpone the decision, although it seems that at this point its ultimate implementation is unstoppable.
A senior Israeli official told Haaretz that during the talks with EU officials, it was made clear that the only way to delay a decision on labeling the products would be to renew the peace process with the Palestinians, which is not an option at this time.
Economic and Diplomatic Damage
Israel fears economic and diplomatic damage from the product labeling. Economically, products manufactured in Judea and Samaria constitute only a small fraction of Israel’s exports to Europe. However, it is feared that many European grocery chains will find it difficult to differentiate between the origins of the goods and will therefore prefer to avoid selling Israeli products altogether.
On the diplomatic level, there is concern over another serious blow to Israel’s status in Europe and increased international pressure, Haaretz explains.
Israel also fears that the labeling will eventually turn into a total ban of products from Judea and Samaria.
By: United with Israel Staff
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