Israeli leaders from both sides of the political divide, sharply criticised a non-binding European Parliament vote of a resolution calling for labelling goods produced beyond Israel’s pre-1967 borders.
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said that the move was a “discriminatory” and ‘’it has the smell of a boycott.
The resolution on the European Union’s role in the Middle East, welcomes the EU’s commitment “in the spirit of differentiation between Israel and its activities in the occupied Palestinian Territory’ to ensure that all agreements between Israel and the EU “must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967,” including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
The European Parliament encouraged EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to “take the lead” on “completing the work on EU-wide guidelines on the labelling of Israeli settlement produce.”
The motion, which was adopted passed by 525 votes to 70, with 31 abstentions, has no immediate practical impact. However, it is viewed as a significant further step towards the separate labelling of goods made in the settlements, a measure that might be effective as of next month.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the measure “unjust” and “simply a distortion of justice and of logic”, saying that “it also hurts peace.”
He added that “The root of the conflict is not the [pre-1967] territories, and the root of the conflict is not the settlements.”
The Zionist Union opposition party called the motion “fundamentally unacceptable,” adding that while the party “supports a return to the negotiating table … causing harm to Israeli citizens and its economy is not the way to do it.”
Reflecting Israeli concerns that the separate labelling of settlement goods could be a precursor to a wider movement against Israeli goods, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said “labelling products is a boycott.”
Emmanuel Nachshon stated that “under the cover of a technical move, this is an attempt to impose a diplomatic solution instead of encouraging the Palestinians to return to negotiations,” he said. “Europe acts toward Israel with sanctimonious hypocrisy, while it would never consider proposing a similar solution to northern Cyprus or Western Sahara.”
During his talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London this week, Netanyahu suggested that that efforts in Europe to restrict trade with Israel could cost the continent access to Israeli tech and strategic influence in the region.
According to a high-level Israeli source, the Prime Minister stressed that Indian and Chinese investment could surpass Europe’s in Israel, especially amid increasing efforts in Europe to limit business between its companies and Israeli settlement-related enterprises.
He encouraged closer ties between the countries, specifically on technology.
“The future belongs to those who innovate,” he said. “Britain and Israel are two great centres of technology. Israel is a global hub of innovation, especially in cyber security. And I think that if we pull our resources together we can offer a better future and great prosperity.”
Both China and India have boosted investment in Israel, with some predicting $500 million (€443 million) in Chinese investment for Israeli high-tech in 2015.