Israel has launched a last-ditch effort to prevent a move by the EU to require member states to put certain labels on Israeli products made over the Green Line in areas captured during the 1967 Six-Day War.
Deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely is visiting a number of European capitals this week in an effort to persuade countries to oppose the measure, expected to be implemented as early as next week, which would require separate labelling for goods produced in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
Before departing, Ms Hotovely, who is a member of prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu's ruling Likud party, visited an Israeli-run West Bank factory which employs Palestinians and warned EU states the proposal would primarily hurt Palestinian workers.
“There is no danger here to the Israeli economy, which is growing stronger. If anything, what you are hurting is the livelihoods of over 10,000 Palestinians,” Ms Hotovely said.
Israel fears the move will pave the way for a wider boycott of all Israeli products, as demanded by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, but EU officials said the labelling initiative was a technicality and not the first stage of a boycott.
"Goods from the settlements cannot be labelled as 'Made in Israel'," said EU ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen. "The European Union views this as simply factually incorrect. It is important for us to have the source of the goods specified. The EU foreign ministers demand that this be done, and we are enforcing the regulations."
Ms Hotovely rejected the argument of the right of the European consumer to know exactly where goods are manufactured, claiming Israel was being singled out.
“There are over 200 territorial conflicts around the world, and only Israel is discriminated against and singled out on this matter by the European Union, and it is the only one being boycotted,” she said.
spokesperson for agriculture and rural development
said EU officials were still working on the wording of the document which aimed to establish consistency as previous regulations were implemented differently in every EU country or were not implemented at all.
Israeli officials hope that only a general recommendation will be issued to member states.
The government's efforts against labelling are also supported by the mainstream opposition Zionist parties. Opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog, head of the Labour party, described the move as a victory for terrorism.
“This is an initiative that only serves one thing: the continuation of hatred and conflict in the region. Labelling goods is a violent act by extremists, who want to make the situation even worse, and the European Union is falling into the trap that they are setting for it,” he said.