Deputy Minister Michael Oren started a diplomatic contretemps by suggesting that Israelis should retaliate against the French policy of labeling products from over the Green Line by not buying products from France.
“France is labeling Israeli products from Yehudah and Shomron and the Golan. Israelis should think twice before buying French products,” Oren declared Sunday night, referring to France’s recent notification that businesses should comply with the European Union labeling guidelines. Issued in November 2015, they say manufacturers should clearly label Israeli-made goods from outside the pre-1967 lines.
Monday morning, France’s ambassador-designate to Israel, Helene LeGal, asked if Oren was “calling for boycotting French products when, in France, boycotting Israel is punished by law.”
The EU delegation to Israel also responded to Oren’s comment, reiterating the official line that the labeling guidelines were merely an “application of EU consumer information regulations,” requiring information, not a boycott.
Oren, a deputy minister for diplomacy in the Prime Minister’s Office, clarified his intention to The Times of Israel on Monday, saying that he was not calling for a boycott of French products, but merely wanted Israeli consumers “to be aware that France is moving to label Jewish products from Yehudah and Shomron and the Golan.”
Thursday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said, in a statement about the French decision, that “it regrets that France, which actually has a law against boycotts, is advancing measures that can be interpreted as encouraging radical elements and the movement to boycott Israel.
“Moreover, it is unfathomable and even disturbing that France has chosen to apply a double standard with regard to Israel by ignoring the other 200 territorial disputes around the world, including those right on France’s own doorstep.”
Israeli officials interpreted the French implementation of the labeling guidelines as “revenge” for Israel’s refusal to go along with a Paris-sponsored international peace conference next month, the Times said.