Goods imported into the European Union are labelled with their country of origin. In recent years there have been moves within member countries of the European Union to use labelling to distinguish between Israeli goods grown in the West Bank and those grown in the rest of Israel.
In 2009, the British government adopted voluntary guidelines in relation to labelling of produce of West Bank settlements. The impetus for labelling in the UK originally came from the British Retailers Association, who approached the UK government for guidance as they were being asked for clear marking on products by consumers wishing to distinguish between goods produced within Israel and those produced in Israeli settlements. Goods from the West Bank are not party to preferential Israel-EU Trade agreements and labelling is considered a way to distinguish goods from each other. In June 2015 it was reported that the EU is in the process of preparing European-wide guidelines on labelling for all 28 member states. It is expected that there will be an announcement of these guidelines in the near future. In September 2015 the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in support of the labelling of West Bank Settlement produce. For in-depth information about labelling and the wide-ranging debate in relation to this issue, please click here.
Supporting a two state solution
As a pro-Israel organisation, Yachad believes in Israel’s unequivocal right to exist and flourish as a Jewish and democratic state, and as a homeland for the Jewish people. Moreover, Israeli citizens, both Jews and Arabs, have a right to live in safety and security, free from terror and violence. We also recognise the Palestinian people have a right to self-determination and we believe that the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel is urgent for both Israel’s long-term security, and for its survival as both a Jewish and democratic state.
Labelling vs. Boycotts
We remain committed to opposing calls for sanctions and boycotts aimed at isolating or delegitimising Israel in its entirety, and likewise to opposing the on-going occupation of land intended for the future state of Palestine. We believe there is an urgent need to reinforce the distinction between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Without such a distinction, calls to boycott Israel in its entirety will only grow, and Israel will be unable to disentangle itself from the occupation, endangering its long-term survival as a Jewish and democratic state.
For these reasons, and notwithstanding the complexities and challenges associated with implementing such a measure, we welcome the EU-wide guidelines to label West Bank settlement produce. Rather than opening up the door to a boycott of Israel as a whole, we believe it enables consumers to continue to choose to buy Israeli produce from within the Green Line, whereas without such a distinction, many consumers may opt out of buying Israeli produce altogether rather than risk inadvertently purchasing settlement goods.
Furthermore, we believe policies that distinguish Israel from the occupied territories both undermine the legitimacy of calls to boycott Israel in its entirety, whilst strengthening the momentum for the eventual establishment of an independent Palestinian state, albeit via the necessary process of negotiation and land swaps between Israel and the Palestinian people.