New EU Labeling Rule for Israeli Settlement Products

13 November, 2015

The European Union is requiring Israel to identify products that are made in disputed territory and sold in Europe.

The EU says the rule will clarify existing regulations.

It drew immediate criticism from the Israeli government and U.S. senators.

A demonstrator wears a Benjamin Netanyahu mask with a message written on it during a protest outside Downing Street in London, Britain Sept. 9, 2015.
A demonstrator wears a Benjamin Netanyahu mask with a message written on it during a protest outside Downing Street in London, Britain Sept. 9, 2015.

Less than 1 percent of Israeli products sold in European countries come from disputed territory, according to the European Union. Israel said the EU action will help those organizing a boycott of Israeli products.

"Europe should be ashamed of itself," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "It took an immoral decision. Of the hundreds of territorial conflicts around the world, it chose to single out Israel and Israel alone."

But Netanyahu said the Israeli economy is strong enough "to weather this" EU action.

The Palestine Liberation Organization praised the EU decision.

"We welcome this decision and consider it a significant move toward a total boycott of Israeli settlements, which are built illegally on occupied Palestinian lands," said PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat.

The EU decision would require products produced in the occupied West Bank, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem to be labeled as from a "settlement."

In the U.S. Congress, 36 U.S senators protested the EU rule.

"We urge you not to implement this labeling policy, which appears intended to discourage Europeans from purchasing these products and promote a de facto boycott of Israel," the senators wrote.

Erekat of the Palestine Liberation Organization said Palestinians have lived under Israeli occupation for decades.

"The meaningful step taken by the EU today is one of many necessary steps to put a stop to these illegal settlements and violent settlers wreaking havoc on the Palestinian population," Erekat said.

The dispute between Israel and the EU comes in the same week that President Barack Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House.

The two leaders do not always agree, especially over a nuclear deal the United States helped broker with Iran.

But Monday's meeting was said to be more cordial. It is expected to result in an increase in U.S. military aid to Israel.

Israel is reportedly looking to increase its annual military aid from the United States to $5 billion. That would give it more than triple the amount any other country receives from the United States.

I'm Mario Ritter.

Zlatica Hoke and Chris Hannas reported on this story for Bruce Alpert adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.


Words in This Story

clarifyv. to make (something) clear or clearer

ashamed – adj. feeling shame or guilt

immoral – adj. not morally good or right, morally evil or wrong

implement – v. to make (something) active or effective

de facto – adj. used to describe something that exists but that is not officially accepted or recognized

havoc – n. a situation in which there is much destruction or confusion

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