ECJ: labels for products from Israeli settlements

The European Court of Justice has ruled that goods from the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and the Golan Heights must in future be labelled as such in the EU. Commentators present legal and ethical arguments supporting the move.

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El País (ES) /

Rules also apply for Israel

The EU is entirely justified in drawing clear boundaries, El País argues:

“The Israeli government is wrong when it describes the ruling as politically motivated and discriminatory. What the verdict does is to establish a clear distinction between products produced within the State of Israel, which enjoy the tariff advantages established in an EU agreement, and those produced outside the internationally recognised borders but sold as products of the former. ... Benjamin Netanyahu's foreign policy was bolstered this year by Trump's decision to recognise the annexation of the Golan Heights. But this does not mean that the EU must accept this de facto policy. The rules for the labelling of goods traded within the EU must be respected by everyone. Including Israel.”

Tageblatt (LU) /

Orientation for ethical action

The ruling is justified and has nothing to do with discrimination against Israel, Tageblatt stresses:

“It may be that goods produced in other territories that have also been annexed in violation of international law do not yet require special labels to that effect under EU law. In that case the ruling from Luxembourg should also be interpreted as a call on EU lawmakers to set things right in this respect. Those who want this world to become a better place should allow people to act ethically in as many areas as possible. If, as the ECJ judges explain in their ruling, this can also be done by labelling goods with the precise location where they were produced, then why not? Because supporting a policy aimed at occupation and illegal settlement is not going to make the world a better place.”

Bild (DE) /

Wage war on EU nonsense

Bild is incensed by the ruling:

“There are more than 200 other disputed territories in the world, but with them the EU is less strident in its approach. Isn't this really just about putting Israel in the pillory (yet again)? ... And it comes only a few days after November 9th, which in Germany didn't just mark the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, but also the November Pogrom in 1938, when Jewish shops were destroyed and the manhunt really began. Compulsory labelling for Israeli products in Berlin, Nuremberg and Munich? What a dreadful thought. If German politicians are even half-way serious when they denounce anti-Semitism, they should declare war on this EU nonsense.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Court playing into the hands of anti-Semites

Although the ruling is understandable in itself, in this case it could have unwanted side-effects, Lidové noviny comments:

“If products come from the West Bank or the Gaza Strip and not from Israel's internationally recognised territories, they can't be labelled as Israeli goods. That's clear. The problem is that there are organisations trying to block the sale of goods from the settlement areas and Israel as a whole - in order to bring about a change in Israeli policies towards the Palestinians. These organisations frequently use anti-Semitic language and can now exert more pressure on importers in European countries who tolerate such pressure. One should not underestimate the hatred of Jews.”