You may view the 5 minute update this week via audio:
In this week’s 5 minute update, we focused on:
1) An examination of the European Union decision to label products made from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights differently than products made in the rest of Israel
At a meeting in Brussels on November 11 an EU executive said that the European Commissioner “adopted this morning the interpretative notice on indication of origin of goods from the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967.” The EU holds that all territory over the pre-1967 lines, including east Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the West Bank are not part of Israel and therefore its products cannot be labeled as “made in Israel.”
The detailed text on the European Union labeling of products made from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights contains the following guidelines:
1. The European Union, in line with international law, does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, namely the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and does not consider them to be part of Israel’s territory, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law. The Union has made it clear that it will not recognize any changes to pre-1967 borders other than those agreed by the parties to the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP).
2. The application of existing Union legislation on indication of origin of products to products originating in Israeli-occupied territories has been the subject of notices or guidance adopted by the relevant authorities of several Member States. There is indeed a demand for clarity from consumers, economic operators and national authorities about existing Union legislation on origin information of products from Israeli-occupied territories. The aim is also to ensure the respect of Union positions and commitments in conformity with international law on the non-recognition by the Union of Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967.
3. While this Notice reflects the Commission’s understanding of the relevant Union legislation, enforcement of the relevant rules remains the primary responsibility of Member States. According to the case-law, while the choice of penalties remains within their discretion, Member States must ensure that penalties for infringements of provisions of Union law are effective, proportionate and dissuasive.
5. When the indication of origin of the product in question is explicitly required by the relevant provisions of Union law, it must be correct and not misleading for the consumer.
7. Since the Golan Heights and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) are not part of the Israeli territory according to international law, the indication ‘product from Israel’ is considered to be incorrect and misleading in the sense of the referenced legislation.
10. For products from the West Bank or the Golan Heights that originate from settlements, an indication limited to ‘product from the Golan Heights’ or ‘product from the West Bank’ would not be acceptable. Even if they would designate the wider area or territory from which the product originates, the omission of the additional geographical information that the product comes from Israeli settlements would mislead the consumer as to the true origin of the product. In such cases the expression ‘Israeli settlement’ or equivalent needs to be added, in brackets, for example. Therefore, expressions such as ‘product from the Golan Heights (Israeli settlement)’ or ‘product from the West Bank (Israeli settlement)’ could be used.
Since the EU labeling issue was first raised in 2012, the EU has downplayed the labeling guidelines as a technical matter and independent of any political considerations. It has explained that it is not a boycott of Israel but rather a measure design to inform the consumer that the products were not made in Israel. Lars Faaborg-Andersen, the EU ambassador to Israel, said that the EU decision was a “technical matter” aimed at clarifying previous legislation on the matter. He said: “This is a small technical addition to something that has existed for a very long time, the trade facilitation between products coming from Israel proper, within its 1967 lines, and products coming from beyond the 1967 borders, but I want to emphasize strongly that this is not a boycott.” He further added: “The EU does not recognize lands captured in 1967, including Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, as Israeli territory. “This is something that also happens to be the view of 99 percent of the international community,” he said.
The EU had delayed the publication of these labeling guidelines in 2013 at the request of the US, which at the time was brokering a nine-month negotiation process between Israel and the Palestinians. That process failed in April 2014 and no new initiatives have replaced it. In the absence of any prospect of renewed negotiations, the EU decided to press forward with its labeling decision.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded to the EU announcement by summoning EU Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Anderson for a harsh rebuke. The Foreign Ministry warned the plan could affect ties between the EU and Israel saying, “Israel condemns the decision of the European Union to label Israeli goods originating over the ’67 lines. We regret that the EU chose for political reasons to take an unusual and discriminatory step which is drawn from the realm of boycotts, just as Israel is facing a wave of terror directed at all citizens,” the statement read. “The claim that this is a technical step is a cynical, baseless claim. We regret that the EU took this politically motivated and unusual and discriminatory step that it learned from the world of boycotts,” the Foreign Ministry said.
In a sign of further displeasure with the EU labeling decision, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, said that Israel will suspend a series of ongoing meetings with the European Union to protest the EU’s decision to begin labeling exports from West Bank settlements. In doing so, she said that Israel was sending a “very strong message” of displeasure. “We say you can’t be involved in what is going on in the Middle East while you are taking such an extreme step of labeling products… boycotting us,” she said. In addition, Israel Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said that Israel would suspend a series of regular dialogues with the EU on political issues in the Middle East, human rights and international organizations.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the European Union decision by saying that the EU should be “ashamed of itself” for announcing a decision to impose labeling guidelines on Israeli products manufactured over the 1967 borders. This move is “hypocritical and applies double standards, targeting Israel when there are over 200 other conflicts around the world,” Netanyahu said. “The EU has decided to label only Israel, and we are not prepared to accept the fact that Europe is labeling the side that is being attacked by terrorism,” he said. “The Israeli economy is strong and will withstand this [decision]. Those who will be harmed will actually be Palestinian workers in Israeli factories [over the 1967 borders]. The European Union should be ashamed of itself,” Netanyahu continued.
Israel Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who traveled to Europe last month in an attempt to prevent the move said: “Labeling products is a boycott,” she declared. “Europe has today taken a discriminatory and grave step.” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said the move unfairly singles out Israel, describing the decision as “anti-Israel and anti-Jewish. European hypocrisy and hatred of Israel has crossed every line,” she said.
Israel Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon called the move “a shameful step giving a prize to terrorism and the people behind it. Even if this or that European has a dispute with the State of Israel regarding the status of the territory and its future, the decision to label products is pure hypocrisy,” he said.
Former Israel foreign minister Avigdor Liberman charged Europe with anti-Semitism, comparing the decision with the continent’s darkest days. “Every time that Europe labels Jews, its a sign that anti-Semitism, insanity and hypocrisy has taken over and that they are leading the entire free world to a catastrophe,” he said.
Israel opposition leader Isaac Herzog from the dovish Zionist Union camp called the decision “dangerous and detrimental” and said it would damage peace efforts. “This decision is based on hatred, falsehood and ignorance, devoid of any moral value. For us, the Jewish people, this is no more than a piece of paper, and we must treat it as such,” he said.
Yesh Atid chairman, Yair Lapid, who is not a part of the current Israeli government coalition said: “The European Union is hiding behind legal jargon and trying to paint a picture that this is a legal matter,” Lapid said. “This is incorrect. It’s a political issue. They are capitulating to the worst elements of jihad. The labeling of settlement products is a direct continuation of the boycott movement against Israel, which is anti-Semitic and misguided,” he said.
Lapid discussed the issue in an interview with CNN.
Avi Ro’eh, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities in the West Bank, wrote a letter to the European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini saying: “At a time when Palestinian terrorism is running high across Israel, the EU has decided to boycott the industrial areas in the West Bank which are islands of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Businesses like these, in which Arabs and Jews work together, should be used as the gold standard for peace, not boycotted. If the EU wants to see real coexistence, they should come and visit the West Bank then it would be clear they are labeling the wrong people,” Ro’eh said.
At a meeting in Athens, the Conference of European Rabbis said that the EU’s move smacked of anti-Semitism. Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt said: “The EU’s decision to label products imported from the settlements and from the Golan Heights in Israel is a disgrace and is characterized by hatred of Israel.”
The research institute NGO Monitor, Itai Reuveni, a senior researcher at NGO Monitor’s Israel Desk, explained the implications of the EU decision to label Jewish products from the West Bank, Eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. He said that this step is part of a well-planned European scheme to boycott all of Israel based on an analysis of the publications put out by those groups leading the boycott movement.
Quoting the EU Ambassador to Israel who claimed the step is merely technical and not part of a general boycott, Reuveni said that “if he really means it, that contradicts the declarations of the organizations who advanced the labeling; these are organizations who receive European funding. Their goal is not technical labeling, but rather (it is) the first stage in a layered plan that ends with a general boycott on those who do business with Israel. To claim this is just labeling for transparency is a sin against reality. The labeling is meant to do something with it.”
The researcher referenced the comments of organizations who call for a general boycott against Israel and who pressured Europe, revealing the stages in their plan, beginning with labeling products so as to boycott those coming from beyond the 1967 borders and then identifying companies with any sort of business connections over the 1967 borders followed by pulling all investments from Israel. “They say it clearly,” he remarked, noting that when he visited the European Parliament he saw on the tables of parliament members reports arguing the importance of boycotting Israel.
In addition, Reuveni pointed out that the labeling only targets Israel despite the fact that there are numerous other areas in the world with disputed territory that are not labeled or boycotted at all. One example of the discrimination against Israel is Western Sahara, which Morocco is occupying while exporting a large amount of fish products to the EU. Aside from Western Sahara, Reuveni brought up the example of northern Cyprus, Tibet and other locations classified as disputed territories, and where the Europeans continue business as usual with the nations in power without even raising the possibility of a boycott or labeling.
The Palestine Liberation Organization, meanwhile, welcomed the EU decision as a positive development but said it did not go far enough. The PLO negotiations department said that the “EU labeling of settlement products is a step in the right direction but insufficient.” PLO secretary-general Saeb Erekat called it a “significant move toward a total boycott of Israeli settlements which are built illegally on occupied Palestinian lands.
The Obama administration supported the EU labeling guidelines saying that it doesn’t consider a new European Union rule outlawing “Made in Israel” tags on goods from the West Bank as a boycott of the Jewish state, only a technical guideline for consumers. However, the U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said before the EU announcement that the move “shouldn’t come as a surprise” as Israel continues to expand settlements. “This underscores the urgent need for Israel to change its policies with regard to settlements,” he said.
The economic impact is likely to be minimal. While the EU is Israel’s largest trade partner, settlement products account for less than 2 percent of Israel’s $14 billion dollars in exports to Europe each year. However, the move is highly symbolic.
An agreement to divide Jerusalem and establish a PLO state is a tribulation event.
The link to these articles are as follows:
1) READ: Full European Union labeling guidelines
2) EU envoy insists settlement labeling purely ‘technical’
3) Israel denounces EU move to label settlement products
4) Israel: EU decision to label settlement products may harm ties with Brussels
5) Israel suspends meetings with EU over settlement labeling
6) PM: EU ‘should be ashamed of itself’ for settlement labeling
7) Lapid to German TV: EU surrenders to jihad by labeling settlement products
8) WATCH: Yair Lapid is interviewed by CNN over EU labeling guidelines
9) European rabbis condemn Brussels’ labeling of settlement goods
10) EU labeling ‘just the first stage in total boycott of Israel’
11) PLO celebrates EU labeling but ‘it isn’t enough
12) US OK with new EU labeling rule for Israeli settlement goods
From a Biblical prophetic perspective, the reason why the God of Israel would allow these events to happen is because it will result in the end of the exile of the house of Jacob and the reunification of the 12 tribes of Israel (Ephraim and Judah).
We will to be “watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem” and we will not rest until the God of Israel makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth (Isaiah 62).
Shalom in Yeshua the Messiah,
Hebraic Heritage Ministries Int’l