By Julie Stahl and Chris Mitchell
CBN News, JERUSALEM, Israel — Israel and U.S. congressmen are strongly condemning a new European Union regulation labeling Israeli products made in disputed areas, saying they’re not made in Israel.
Israeli officials and the congressmen say it’s a political decision to delegitimize Israel and will hinder peace with the Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was furious over the decision, saying it brought back dark memories.
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“Europe should be ashamed of itself. It took an immoral decision,” Netanyahu said. “Of the hundreds of territorial conflicts around the world, it chose to single out Israel and Israel alone, while it’s fighting with its back against the wall against the wave of terror.”
Products made in Israeli factories and businesses in areas disputed between Israel and the Palestinians will no longer say “made in Israel.” That includes products from Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), the Golan Heights and even in the eastern sector of Jerusalem – areas promised to Israel in the Bible.
Ironically, those businesses often employ Palestinian workers and provide a much better income than they’d receive from Palestinian employers.
“The European Union is not going to hurt the Israeli economy. It’s strong enough to weather this, but it’s the Palestinian workers in Israeli enterprises in Judea and Samaria that will be hurt,” Netanyahu said. “This will not advance peace; it will certainly not advance truth and justice. It’s wrong. Europe should be ashamed of itself.”
Earlier this week, 36 U.S. senators co-signed a letter to E.U. Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini. They expressed concern over the guidelines, saying they appeared to be “intended to discourage Europeans from purchasing these products and promote a de-facto boycott of Israel, a key ally and the only true democracy in the Middle East.”
“We believe strongly that these efforts are unwarranted, dangerous and damaging to the prospects of a negotiated solution to this conflict,” the senators said in the letter.
Some Israelis went even further in their condemnation.
“This is outrageous because this is using double standards, you know. You can ask yourself, there are plenty of territorial debates and regional debates in the world and this patient treatment of labeling products is kept only for the Jewish state,” Israeli Energy and Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz told CBN News.
Former Israeli U.S. Ambassador Michael Oren called it “anti-Semitic.”
“We have to understand that the decision by the European Union to label Israeli products from Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights is an anti-Semitic decision. It just is,” Oren told CBN News.
The E.U. defended the decision, saying it was technical and not political. But E.U. parliament member Roger Helmer said it’s just plain wrong.
“Boycotts of that sort are simply unacceptable,” Helmer said. “We wouldn’t have any trade left at all if we wouldn’t trade with people where we had some sort of problem or issue.
Helmer believes the labeling may actually have positive kickbacks.
“There’s a large Jewish community in many European countries and also others who might sympathize with the Israeli cause who certainly won’t be boycotting and indeed might be inclined to look for such products,” he said.
Israeli businessman Sam Green told CBN News it’s the E.U.’s loss.
“Israel should ignore that and we should move ahead and develop markets, open new markets towards the East — China, India, Asian nations, much greater potential there for Israeli technology transfer and knowledge transfer and if Europe wants to isolate themselves from that movement, it’s their loss,” he said.
Report via CBN New
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