The European Union (EU) is preparing guidelines that would force Israel to label products made in Judea and Samaria and exported to Europe, The Associated Press (AP) revealed on Tuesday.
An EU official said Tuesday the 28-nation bloc's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, told European foreign ministers May 18 that work is underway and that a set of guidelines will be "finalized in the near future," according to the report.
The new guidelines would require Israeli exporters to explicitly label products as being made in “the settlements”, which could deter consumers from buying them.
The EU official told AP it would likely be months before the guidelines are complete. A second official said much would depend on the policies of the new Israeli government. If peace talks with the Palestinians are restarted, said the official, the effort could once again be shelved. If talks remain frozen and Israel continues construction in Judea and Samaria, the EU will move forward with the labeling plan, he said.
Plans to label “settlement products” have been in the works for several years now. In 2012, the EU formally recommended that Israeli activity in Judea and Samaria be “prevented” through an economic boycott of Jewish industry in those regions. Such a move would affect tens of thousands of PA Arabs who are employed in Jewish-owned industry in the area.
Foreign ministers from EU member countries indicated at one point they would back the labeling initiative, but it was later reported that the plans were postponed after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry intervened.
The labeling initiative made headlines in April, when a diplomat said that 16 out of the 28 EU countries want the bloc to label products from Judea and Samaria.
The 16 include Britain, France, Spain and Italy but not Germany.
Despite the EU claims that Judea and Samaria are “occupied territory”, the 2012 Levy Report proved proved conclusively that the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria is legal according to international law. Despite the report being commissioned by Binyamin Netanyahu's government, it has yet to be adopted.