An internal German government paper obtained by Israel’s Army Radio shows that they are formulating a position in favor of European Union efforts to required special labels for products manufactured in Yehudah and Shomron.
“In our view, it is permissible to label products with the ‘Made in Israel’ sticker only if those products are manufactured within the 1967 borders,” the document says, as reported on Sunday morning.
The position paper was authored on May 13 by Dr. Emily Haber, a state secretary in the German Foreign Ministry, in response to a parliamentary motion by opposition lawmakers in Berlin, and is said to articulate national policy.
When asked for clarification about the Haber letter, a German Foreign Ministry spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post, “Products from [Yehudah and Shomron] have for a long time been sold in the EU. The EU is working on joint guidelines for a correct labeling of the [product] origin in the framework of EU consumer protection law. We are not conducting a discussion about boycotts.”
Israeli diplomats and Foreign Ministry officials are reportedly concerned about precisely that. They fear that any labeling of products manufactured in the region would be a first step toward an eventual European boycott of Israeli goods. According to Army Radio, European governments are determined to implement the labeling policy, and deny suggestions that they relented at the request of the Obama administration.
Israeli officials are far from acquiescing to the change.
“We will fight this,” Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin told Army Radio. “We are dealing with this phenomenon. There isn’t a meeting, a delegation of diplomats, or a sit-down with foreign ministers in which this issue isn’t raised. There was a time when the U.N. equated Zionism with racism. We still don’t think this is a lost cause. There are ups and downs, and the state of Israel is obligated to deal with this issue. We have the tools to do it.”
Currently, all Israeli exports to European markets, including those of products produced in Jewish communities in Yehudah and Shomron, are labeled “Made in Israel.” In the last year, however, there has been growing pressure on EU governments to distinguish between products made from both within and without the Green Line.
Andrew Stanley, the EU’s chief diplomat at its mission in Israel, told Army Radio that no final decision has been taken by the member states and that discussions are ongoing.
Germany support for the labeling measure reportedly reflects Chancellor Angela Merkel’s anger at Israel’s refusal to stop construction in Yehudah and Shomron.