The German government has given its tacit approval of European Union efforts to label products manufactured in Israeli-controlled territory beyond the Green Line, Army Radio reported on Sunday morning.
The IDF-run radio station said it obtained an official German government document that was produced in response to a parliamentary motion by opposition lawmakers in Berlin. The document reportedly enunciates Germany’s stance on the issue.
“In our view, it is permissible to label products with the ‘Made in Israel’ sticker only if those products are manufactured within the 1967 borders,” reads the document obtained by Army Radio.
The Jerusalem Post obtained a letter which confirms the Army Radio report.
In a letter dated May 13, Dr. Emily Haber, a state secretary in the German Foreign Ministry, appears to have conveyed a new and explicit position for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government.
“The label ‘Made in Israel’ is, according to the opinion of the federal government, only allowed for products from within the borders of Israeli state territory before 1967,” stated the letter.
When asked for clarification about the Haber letter, a German Foreign Ministry spokesperson told the Post: “Products from Israeli settlements have for a long time been sold in the EU. The EU is working on joint guidelines for a correct labeling of the [product] origin in the framework of EU consumer protection law. We are not conducting a discussion about boycotts.”
Israel has historically relied on Germany as its most loyal ally in the EU, many of whose members have been vocal in their support of the Palestinians. Currently, all Israeli exports to European markets, including those of products produced in West Bank settlements, are labeled ‘Made in Israel.’ In the last year, however, there has been growing pressure on EU governments to distinguish between products made from both within and without the Green Line.
Andrew Stanley, the EU’s chief diplomat at its mission in Israel, told Army Radio that no final decision has been taken by the member states and that discussions are ongoing. According to Stanley, the raging debate on this issue is a reflection of Europe’s growing impatience with the Israeli government’s settlements policy.
Israeli diplomats and Foreign Ministry officials are reportedly concerned that any labeling of products manufactured in the settlements would be a first step toward an eventual European boycott of Israeli goods. According to Army Radio, European governments are determined to go through with this step, even going so far as to deny suggestions that they abandoned efforts at the request of the Obama administration.
While Germany’s defense relations with Israel are considered to be quite close, Merkel is reportedly furious with Jerusalem’s continued settlement activity.
“We will fight this,” Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin told Army Radio. “We are dealing with this phenomenon. There isn’t a meeting, a delegation of diplomats, or a sit-down with foreign ministers in which this issue isn’t raised. There was a time when the UN equated Zionism with racism. We still don’t think this is a lost cause. There are ups and downs, and the state of Israel is obligated to deal with this issue. We have the tools to do it.”
Benjamin Weinthal contributed to this story.
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Germany-backs-labeling-products-made-in-settlements-315143