The Dutch government has issued a first of its kind directive to retail chains in the country, telling them to mark Israeli products that were manufactured in Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, according to a report Thursday by Haaretz.
This makes the Netherlands, considered one of Israel's closest friends in Europe, the second country in the European Union, after Britain, to ask retail chains to mark products made in areas beyond the 1949 ceasefire line.
According to the Haaretz report, the Dutch Ministry of Economy and Trade issued the directive on Wednesday to all retail chains in the country.
“The decision was made after consulting the European Commission,” the document, quoted by the newspaper, said.
The letter states that the government is recommending the label change but that no steps will be taken against retails who do not comply, and that it is not illegal to import products from these areas.
The document calls for the labeling of the following products: fresh fruit and vegetables, wine, honey, olive oil, fish, meat, chicken, eggs and cosmetics.
These products should no longer state on their packaging that they are made in Israel, says the document. Rather, they should be labeled as originating in “Israeli settlement in the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, the West Bank or in Palestinian territories,” the directive states. Retailers, not importers, will be responsible for the labeling.
According to the report, the Netherlands’ foreign minister, Frans Timmermans, said in a speech to parliament Wednesday that “the settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace.”
He said that the labeling of products by retail chains in Holland will allow consumers to know whether they want to purchase these products. “We do not want to contribute to the economy of the illegal settlements,” Timmermans said, according to Haaretz.
The Dutch decision comes one week after the EU formally recommended that its 27 member states “prevent” Israeli activity in Judea and Samaria through an economic boycott of Jewish communities in those regions.
The EU's latest boycott recommendation came to light in the publication of the EU’s Jerusalem Report 2012, in which the European body recommends its members avoid financial transactions with Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.
In the report, the EU suggests its member states “prevent, discourage and raise awareness about problematic implications of financial transactions, including foreign direct investments from within the EU in support of settlement activities, infrastructure and services.” The recommendation followed an internal report which alleged that Israel had used construction in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria to prevent the possibility of a two-state solution.
The EU said back in September it was considering imposing a ban on products from Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
Responding Thursday evening to the Dutch decision, Interior Minister Eli Yishai said, "Products of the settlement enterprise beyond the Green Line, as well as that those inside the Green Line, are proud Blue and White products. The state of Israel will stand as one entity against any attempt to boycott its products."
Yishai added, "It's strange that a country has not yet made full compensation for Jewish property stolen soil in the forties of the last century, finds time to mark a Jewish product."