Lars Faaborg-Andersen, the head of the European Union (EU) delegation to Israel, told Arutz Sheva on Wednesday that the EU is opposed to boycotts of Israel – but also said he understood why there are such boycotts.
“The EU is totally against BDS, boycotts, isolation. We want dialogue and we think that it’s the best way to get our points across and get Israel to work in the direction that we would like to see,” said Faaborg-Andersen.
At the same time, he continued, “There are other groups in Europe and also in the United States that are advocating for BDS but there are also corporations and others taking decisions to disengage economically from Israel, and they are not in our control.”
He warned that Israel could find itself in a situation “where it has fewer friends in the world, if a solution is not found to the problem of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”
Faaborg-Andersen acknowledged that “it takes two to tango” but added, “What we don’t like to see is the parties taking steps that are bringing us further away from the solution.”
Those steps, according to the EU envoy, include Israel’s “expansion of settlements that we have seen in recent years”.
With regards to products from Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, Faaborg-Andersen said that labeling them as “made in Israel” would be misleading.
“That’s in accordance with existing legislation in the EU when it comes to consumer protection,” he said. “A number of member states have already enacted guidelines on this particular issue, and I think that in the not too distant future, there will also be an EU-wide arrangement on this issue.”
However, said Faaborg-Andersen, guidelines with regards to labeling are not only enacted when it comes to Israel.
“This is not different for Israel or any other country in the world. It is a fundamental premise that the consumer must be assured that the product he or she is buying is correctly labeled,” he said, adding, “You cannot write that a product comes from country A when it comes from country C.”
“I want to make the point that this a general legislation that’s applied from any product coming from anywhere in the world. It has to be correctly labeled,” added Faaborg-Andersen.
As for the issue of Palestinian Arabs who are employed in Israeli-owned factories in Judea and Samaria and would be affected by a boycott of products from the region, Faaborg-Andersen called for a broader perspective.
“Settlements are currently affecting 60% of the area, and there are many reports from the World Bank and from the IMF showing that giving Palestinians access to just a couple of percentages of this territory would add millions to their GDP,” he explained. “So when you’re making up the overall calculation as to what is the cost for Palestinians of the settlement enterprise, I think you have to take that into account as well.”