Israeli politicians hit out at EU for settlement labelling move

Far-right Jewish Home minister says he will trade in his Citroen car for Japanese Mazda

Israel has reacted angrily to Wednesday's European Union decision to label Israeli products manufactured beyond the 1967 Green Line, suspending the political dialogue with the EU and summoning the EU ambassador to Israel, as president Reuven Rivlin cancelled a trip next month to EU headquarters in Brussels.

Right-wing politicians were quick to accuse European politicians of anti-Semitism and agriculture minister Uri Ariel from the far-right Jewish Home announced that he was trading in his Citroen car for a Japanese Mazda.

EU ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen was summoned to the foreign ministry in Jerusalem for a reprimand, during which he was informed that political dialogue was being suspended in a number of areas of particular important to the Europeans, such as development projects to help Palestinians in the West Bank.

A foreign ministry representative told the ambassador that the “double-standard being applied by the EU”, which ignores countless other conflicts in the world, was unconscionable, and the timing, when Israel was facing a wave of Palestinian attacks, was “puzzling and outrageous”.


Not surprisingly, the fiercest condemnations came from right-wing politicians. Immigration minister Zeev Elkin described the decision as "anti-Semitic and scandalous". Science minister Ofir Akunis said the decision constituted "a moral stain on Europe's brow".

Historical comparison

Yisrael Beiteinu leader

Avigdor Lieberman

made a clear historical comparison.

“Every time Europe marks Jews, which is a sign of anti-Semitism, madness and hypocrisy take over and leads to a disaster for the entire free world.”

Opposition head Yitzhak Herzog, the leader of the centre-left Zionist Union, called the EU decision dangerous, warning that it would undermine efforts to revive the peace process.

“This is a decision that will harm both Israelis and Palestinians, and the thousands of families who depend on this industry for their livelihood.”

The EU decision stipulates that products such as fruit, vegetables, wine and honey produced in West Bank settlements, Israeli neighbourhoods of east Jerusalem or the Golan Heights must be clearly marked as settlement products and not just “Made in Israel”.

Israel believes that the economic damage will be miniscule – probably no more than €930,000 annually – and that it will primarily hurt Palestinian workers who may lose their jobs if exports decrease. About 15,000 Palestinians are employed in Israeli settlement factories, comprising approximately 60 per cent of the workforce.

However, Israel fears that the labelling may pave the way for a wider boycott of all Israeli products, as demanded by the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement.

The left-wing Meretz and the Arab Joint List parties welcomed the EU decision. “This is a correct decision that will enable the entire Israeli economy to get the painful hump of the settlements off its back,” said Meretz Knesset member Issawi Frej.