Until Israel’s Foreign Ministry reaches decision after EU’s pro-Palestinian decision, all diplomatic ties with EU institutions concerning the Israel-Arab conflict will be suspended.
•Israel will continue cooperation with individual countries such as Germany, Hungary, Britain & France.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday instructed the Foreign Ministry to reassess the European Union’s involvement in the peace process with Palestinians, the Israeli news site Ynet News reported.
The prime minister, “ordered suspension of diplomatic contacts with the institutions of the European Union and its representatives on this issue,” the foreign ministry said in a Hebrew-language statement. A number of scheduled EU meetings have also been suspended.
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Until the Foreign Ministry reaches an official decision on the matter, all diplomatic ties with EU institutions concerning the conflict will be suspended.
In April, France and 15 other European Union countries urged the bloc to clearly label products sold in member countries that originated in Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, annexed east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, all obtained by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.
After the measure passed November 11, the Foreign Ministry immediately summoned the EU’s ambassador for a reprimand and issued a statement condemning the directive, saying that the EU was applying a double-standard by singling Israel out for legislation while ignoring the other 200 territorial conflicts in the world.
The European Commission has been working for months on implementing a plan first mooted in 2012. The instructions have been issued to food and other industries, including potentially specifying the wording to be used on labels.
Some members of the 28-member EU are extremely frustrated at the lack of a peace process, as well as with Israel’s settlement expansion.
Israel calls any such move a boycott, while the EU insists it is merely providing customers with information.
The EU insisted that a decision to label products from Israeli settlements was taken for legal reasons relating to the origins of goods and was not a political stance.
“This is a technical issue not a political stance,” European Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis told journalists, adding that the bloc “does not support in any form a boycott or sanctions against Israel.”
Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that the EU’s decision is “a shameful step, giving a prize to terrorism and the people behind it.”
“Even if this or that European has a dispute with the State of Israel regarding the status of the territory and its future, the decision to label products is pure hypocrisy,” he added.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hailed the ruling by the EU calling it “a decision of great value,” and urged other countries to adopt the practice of labeling goods from Israeli settlements as well.
Foreign Ministry officials stressed that Israel will continue diplomatic cooperation with European countries such as Germany, Britain and France, but will stop working with the European Union itself.
A few countries including Hungary and Germany have pledged to disregard the EU ruling.
“We do not support that decision. It is an inefficient instrument. It is irrational and does not contribute to a solution [to the Palestinian–Israeli conflict], but causes damage,” said Hungary’s Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó.
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