EU, Israel Patching Up After Labeling Row

YERUSHALAYIM -

After months of discord started by the European Union labeling of produce from over the Green Line, Israeli and European officials are engaged in unofficial talks to patch up the relationship, according to Haaretz on Wednesday.

The EU is not offering to rescind the labeling guidelines, but officials were quoted as saying that a conciliatory gesture in the form of an unspecified concession to Israel could emerge from the talks.

The contacts reportedly began in the last two weeks, including during an unpublicized visit to Israel last week by the EU foreign service’s Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs Helga Schmid, who met with Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold and officials from Israel’s National Security Council.

Israeli officials told the EU diplomat “that the decision to mark [settlement] products were unilateral, and in practice adopted the Palestinian narrative,” an unnamed senior source told Haaretz. “That’s not how one conducts a respectful dialogue.”

Another unnamed official was quoted as saying that the EU “is very unhappy that we’ve frozen [all contacts] connected to the peace process. They understand they have to give us something in words and deeds.”

In response to EU actions it deems unfriendly, Israel halted all contact with EU working groups and last week began demolishing illegal EU construction in Area C of Yehudah and Shomron.

The EU called on Israel to halt the demolition of illegal Arab buildings, some of which are EU-funded.

“In the past weeks there have been a number of developments in Area C, which risk undermining the viability of a future Palestinian state and driving the parties yet further apart,” the EU diplomatic service said in a statement.