EU Denies it is Postponing Labelling of 'Settlement' Products
The European Union on Monday denied a report in the Israeli media that it was delaying a decision to label products from Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, AFP reported.
On Sunday, the Haaretz newspaper reported that the EU had delayed labelling the products to the end of June at the request of the United States.
"Contrary to what was recently reported in the Israeli media, work on the effective enforcement of EU legislation with regard to the labelling of settlement products has not been delayed. Nor has the EU been asked to postpone such work," a statement said, according to AFP.
Haaretz said that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is trying to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, intervened with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton at Israel's request.
Kerry is expected Thursday in Jerusalem and Ramallah, his fourth such trip since March.
Hanan Ashrawi, executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had strongly criticized the EU after the Haaretz report but on Monday clarified that "there has been no change in EU positions and no American attempts to seek a delay in the labelling of illegal settlement products."
In February, 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 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.
A week after the recommendation, the Dutch government 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.
EU foreign ministers, including Britain’s William Hague and Laurent Fabius of France, said last month they would back the labeling initiative.
Signatories also included the chief diplomats of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain, according to AFP.