As you will be aware, and after much fanfare, the EU published its guidelines on labelling of products in the West Bank and Golan Heights.
Here at EIPA we think that in the midst of a continuing wave of indiscriminate terror attacks against Israel’s civilian population, the decision to publish these guidelines makes zero political sense from a set of EU institutions that want to be seen as an honest broker in the Peace Process.
The EU’s Foreign Policy Chief can try and dress this move up as consumer protection, a technical trade detail or as a non-binding set of guidelines, but to the vast majority of Israelis it will be viewed very simply: as a slap in the face and an overt political move to punish Israel.
What is worse is that EU labelling of settlement products gives credence to the Mahmoud Abbas narrative that the stabbing attacks and car-rammings are somehow linked to settlements.
This lack of balance and a feeling of Israel getting the stick while the Palestinian authority gets the carrot has already had grave consequences for the EU- Israel relationship. This relationship is very important and we at EIPA are concerned at the needless deterioration of it.
As we write, Israel and the EU are engaged in a game of tit for tat. In retaliation at the publication of the EU guidelines – which in short will see an EU refusal to recognise products from the West Bank and the Golan Heights as “product of Israel”, instead they must say “product of West bank (Israeli settlement)” – Israel has done the following.
- President Rivlin has cancelled his planned visit to the EU in Brussels on December
- The EU envoy to Israel was summoned to the MFA and was reprimanded
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has suspended dialogue with the EU on a number of fronts
- Deputy Foreign Minister Hotoveli said the MFA will suspend all peace negotiations with the EU
- Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked said she will examine taking legal steps against the EU
- Minister Uri Ariel has returned his European made Citroen and is now driving a Japanese car
The question has to be asked: Was a move on labelling even necessary? What ends does it serve from an EU perspective other than souring the political milk with one side in the peace process?
EIPA will be working hard to convince the various Foreign ministries around Europe that this move should absolutely not be implemented if European capitals want to enjoy a balanced and harmonious relationship with the state of Israel.
The actions of the EU are an ample example of how not to behave diplomatically and politically. This damage will take time and effort to repair. EIPA are committed to facilitate this much needed rapprochement in the weeks ahead.
To read the Guidelines click here