On 11/11, the EU Commission adopted the “Interpretative Notice on Indication of Origin of Goods from the Territories Occupied by Israel since June 1967.” The document outlines the implementation of existing EU policy on labeling products originating in Israeli settlements. Although the notice is not new legislation, it clarifies what proper labeling of products from the occupied territories entails. For example, goods can be labeled “product from the West Bank (Palestinian product)” or “product from the Golan Heights (Israeli settlement).” However, enforcement of the guidelines is left up to individual EU memberstates.
In 4/2015 (see JPS 44), 16 of the 28 EU foreign ministers had renewed an earlier call for labeling settlement products. The following month, foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini responded to the requests for full implementation of the EU’s unspoken differentiation policy, discussing the issue with the EU Council on 5/18 and with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on 5/20. After several more months of discussion and the circulation of a draft document, the European Parliament passed a symbolic resolution on 9/10 supporting the EU initiative despite persistent efforts by Israel and its allies in the U.S. Congress to derail the move (see Update in JPS 45 for more).
Israeli officials were quick to demonize the new guidelines as a boycott, estimating that the policy could cost their country as much as $50 million annually. In addition to reprimanding the EU ambassador to Israel, officials postponed meetings with European diplomats and President Reuven Rivlin cancelled a trip to Brussels. The Palestinians, on the other hand, welcomed the guidelines.
Presented below is an edited version of the notice issued by the EU Commission. The full set of guidelines (including footnotes) is available at eeas.europa.eu.