In a win for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, the European Union has announced a ruling made by its Court of Justice, declaring that all imported products originating from Israeli settlements must be explicitly identified as such on their labeling.
These settlements include the West Bank and East Jerusalem, both of which have been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War. The EU – as well as the United Nations– recognises, however, that these settlements, and their continuing expansion, are illegal.
This is a move that has been years in the making, with the EU having given a so-called ‘interpretative notice’ in 2015, introducing the need to label settlement goods as such, while countless NGOs have pushed to achieve it as a stepping stone for a fully informed BDS movement against Israel.
Construction work on the Israeli settlement, Gitav Zeev, in the occupied West Bank. Photo courtesy of Ahmed Gharabli for AFP.
In a statement, a spokesperson of the EU embassy in Ramat Gan said that “clear and non-misleading indication of origin is an essential part of the EU’s consumer policy.”
The announcement has sparked widespread backlash from Israeli politicians and government spokespeople who criticised the decision as “discriminatory” and “anti-Semitic.”
The EU’s response to such allegations, however, is that, for one, “the EU considers settlements in occupied territories illegal under international law,” and that “the settlements established in some of the territories occupied by the State of Israel are characterised by the fact that they give concrete expression to a policy of population transfer conducted by that State outside its territory, in violation of the rules of general international humanitarian law.”
International law decrees that consumers should have the right to know where the products they buy come from – and whether that entity is an occupying power or a sovereign country, for ethical reasons.
However, the EU asserted that they still reject – as they always have – the BDS movement and its campaigns to “isolate Israel.”
The full text of the verdict, handed down by 15 judges in the court’s Grand Chamber, can be found here.