Yuval Steinitz. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90) (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yuval Steinitz

A senior Israeli Cabinet minister on Tuesday condemned a European Union plan to begin labeling products from Judea and Samaria, saying the move amounted to “disguised anti-Semitism.”

The EU is expected to order the labeling, possibly this week, in what is widely seen as a show of displeasure over Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. The EU already bars goods made in Judea and Samaria from receiving customs exemptions given to goods elsewhere in Israel.

Yuval Steinitz, the minister for national infrastructure, energy and water resources, accused the EU of unfairly singling out Israel when it has not taken similar action toward products made in areas like Chinese-controlled Tibet or Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus.

“We cannot conceive it but as some disguised anti-Semitism,” he told reporters Tuesday.

An EU official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the media, said a decision could come in Brussels as soon as Wednesday.

The economic impact of such a measure would likely be minimal. Although the EU is Israel’s largest trade partner, Judea and Samaria products make up a tiny portion of Israeli exports. But it would have great symbolic meaning by forcing exporters to explicitly label products as being made in Judea and Samaria — a potential stigma that could deter consumers.

The Palestinians claim Judea and Samaria and part of Jerusalem — territories captured by Israel in the 1967 defensive war — as parts of a future independent state.

Israel, and many others, say moves like the EU labeling plan only encourage the Palestinians to take hard-line positions and avoid negotiations.

By: Josef Federman, AP