A delegation of parliamentarians from 10 European countries on Wednesday denounced the EU policy of exclusively labeling goods made in Israeli territory, calling it a violation of the universally recognized definition of antisemitism.
The hot-button declaration by the pro-Israel legislators relates to a 2015 EU directive which states that any goods made in areas which Israel won in the 1967 Six-Day War, including eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, cannot be labelled as “made in Israel.”
“Labeling products exclusively from the one and only Jewish state violates the internationally accepted IHRA definition of antisemitism,” read the lawmakers’ declaration.
The one-sentence declaration was signed at an event at the Czech Parliament in Prague attended by legislators from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The parliamentarians, members of their respective countries’ parliamentary European Israeli Allies Caucuses, pledged to continue working within their own parliaments against the directive.
“The EU should withdraw the directive where goods from Jerusalem, Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria are requested to be separately labeled to highlight that the products come from those areas,” said Chairman of the European Parliament Israel Allies Caucus Bert Jan Ruissen of the Netherlands. “This [directive] is discriminative and based on anti-Zionist assumptions,” he said.
The European Union’s position is that the lands in question are not part of the internationally recognized borders of Israel and as such, goods from there cannot carry the generic “Made in Israel” tag and should be labelled as coming from “settlements.” The EU’s top court, the European Court of Justice, subsequently endorsed the decision.
Israel counters that the policy is both discriminatory and employs a double standard, noting that the European Union has not taken taken similar measures with regard to hundreds of territorial conflicts elsewhere in the world.
“As a result of European frustration that there isn’t an immediate solution to the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict, it holds Israel to blame and is punishing its citizens, through a discriminatory product labeling campaign,” Knesset member Sharren Haskel told the European lawmakers in a keynote address.
She said that the European Union was using a consumer protection directive to advance its foreign policy objectives.
“The labeling of a product’s origin was created to protect consumers so they know where a product is from,” she said. “It was not intended as tool to punish one side in a regional conflict.”
Ironically, the EU sanctions hurt Palestinians working at Israeli owned factories in the areas, some of which have relocated. Moreover, in contrast to the European Union, the United States has recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Haskel, a member of the opposition National Unity Party who co-chairs the Knesset’s Christian Allies Caucus, travelled to Prague with a nanny for her infant twins after receiving special dispensation from the Knesset’s Ethics Committee to bring one in place of a parliamentary personal assistant.
“Their future is at risk of suffering from ever-increasing antisemitism,” she said of her 10-month old children.
“It is our Christian allies who are standing at the front lines [against] the boycott campaign against Israel, serving as crucial voices of reason against these discriminatory policies,” said Haskel.
The parliamentarians from the Israel Allies Caucus in Norway have previously passed a resolution against the labeling directive in their national parliament.
“Our allies are mobilized and prepared to fight against these racist regulations that single out Israel,” said Israel Allies Foundation President Josh Reinstein.
The European gathering is part of a global network of more than 50 pro-Israel caucuses around the world which mobilize political support for Israel based on shared Judeo-Christian values, and which runs under the aegis of the Israel Allies Foundation.
Call for embassy move to Jerusalem
The conference concluded on Wednesday afternoon with an event hosted by Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda and Israeli Ambassador to the Czech Republic Anna Azari marking Israel’s 75th anniversary and the reunification of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War.
The legislators plan to present their Czech hosts with a joint statement urging European countries to move their embassy to Israel’s capital.
Indeed, the Czech House of Representatives is expected to adopt a resolution late this year calling on the Czech government to relocate their embassy to Jerusalem.
The Czech Republic—which hosted the two-day event—is one of Israel’s strongest allies in Europe.
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