EU Labeling of Israeli Settlement Goods is "Unconstructive and One-Sided," ADL Says

New York, NY, November 11, 2015 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today condemned the European Union (EU) guidelines which call for Israeli goods from the West Bank and the Golan Heights to be given unique labels.

The guidelines suggest such Israeli goods be labeled, “product from the Golan Heights (Israeli settlement)” or “product from the West Bank (Israeli settlement).”

Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, issued the following statement:

The recent EU guidelines labeling Israeli settlement products is an unconstructive and one-sided measure which will not help bring closer a resolution to the conflict.

The guidelines perpetuate an illusion that the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians can be resolved through external pressure rather than by negotiations between the parties. It is for Palestinians and Israelis – not the Europeans – to determine future border between them, not Europe. European countries have not had much luck drawing boundaries in the Middle East.

In fact, this unhelpful policy to apply diplomatic pressure only on Israel only serves to reinforce Palestinian unwillingness to rejoin direct negotiations with Israel.

One need only consider the EU guideline’s inclusion of the Golan Heights to realize how out of touch this policy is with the realities on the ground. Should Israeli wineries in the Golan Heights be penalized when Jabat al-Nusra is beheading Syrians and Western journalists right across the border?

European officials might insist that the decision is technical, but in fact, these guidelines send a political message, and one that will surely be coopted by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement, which opposes the two-state solution. Even if EU officials claim it does not support BDS, this policy will have a similar negative affect on European consumers, who are unlikely to make the intended distinction.

But this policy is objectionable for its hypocrisy. While the EU targets settlement goods, European ministers are leading high-level trade delegations to Iran? Will the EU continue to allow fish from Western Sahara to be labeled, ‘product of Morocco’?  No, Israel is once again being singled out for opprobrium.

If the EU wants to play a positive role in the Middle East peace process, it will not pressure Israel through economic sanction, but use its influence to bring the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table, and end the wave of Palestinian incitement and violence.