Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - The European Commission has issued new guidelines for Israeli products to indicate their origin, distinguishing between those produced in the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and in the Golan and those produced in Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has branded the decision as "a dark memory" of the Nazi era, when in 1933 Germany decided a boycott of Jewish products.
At least 500 thousand Israelis live and work in settlements in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967. They include the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. Under international law they are illegal, but Israel tends not to talk about this situation. The dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians has been stalled for years due to the continued growth of such settlements.
From now on agricultural, cosmetic and industrial products of these areas must have the designation of origin label. The Israeli Foreign Ministry speaks of "boycott". In any case, since 2004, that the products of the settlements do not enjoy the same facilities given to Israeli products. The specific labeling on settlements is already required by the UK, Denmark and Belgium.
Israel is concerned that the designation of origin will lead to a boycott of settlement products, such as fruits (raisins and dates), wine, poultry, honey, olive oil and cosmetics from the Dead Sea.
To lobby against occupation, Israel has long been the subject of a global boycott campaign called BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), but it has had almost no influence. Over the past nine years, Israeli exports grew from 7.8 to 15.5 billion.
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), has described the EU decision as "positive", but insufficient.
The PLO is calling for a direct boycott rather than labeling.
The Israeli Ministry of Economy estimates that the impact of a possible boycott will be as high as 50 million US dollars per year, about one-fifth of the entire annual production of the settlements: a drop in the ocean of trade between Israel and the ' EU, valued at around 30 billion of goods and services.