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ECJ may soon rule that Israeli settlement goods carry warning labels

The European Union may soon require that Israeli products made in contested territories carry consumer warning labels.

Published: August 11, 2019, 9:29 am

    Luxembourg

    A non-binding opinion by a 15 judge panel of the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice was recently issued arguing that EU law requires Israeli-made products to be labeled from “settlements” and “Israeli colonies”.

    The Washington Free Beacon reported that the decision that could trigger American anti-boycott laws opening a “Pandora’s box” of litigation.

    The decision by the ECJ follows a campaign by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS).

    The EU court may soon issue its own binding judgment in the case, but pro-Israeli legal experts are warning that it may mean that goods from any disputed territory could be included.

    If the ECJ issues a ruling, the US anti-boycott laws protecting Israeli-made goods on the international market, could be triggered.

    Brooke Goldstein, executive director of the Lawfare Project, said the EU court’s decision was “frankly outrageous”.

    “Could the discrimination be any clearer? If the EU Court justifies this bigotry it will degrade the rule of law in Europe and it will undoubtedly have many unintended consequences for EU traders. My understanding is that certain consumer protection agencies have already filed complaints to demand the similar labeling of goods from other disputed territories.

    This labeling fiasco will turn into a nightmare for EU importers of goods from any and all countries involved in territorial disputes. I trust the court will maintain that goods must be labeled indicating the geographical location of origin, and reject the push to politicize labeling,” Goldstein said.

    “The Advocate General’s opinion said that goods produced by Muslims are to be labeled from ‘Palestine,’ and goods produced by Jews labeled as coming from ‘Israeli colonies,’ she said. “Both people are living in the same geographic location, and yet Jewish goods are being treated differently.”

    The legal dispute was ignited after France passed a law mandating that products made in the West Bank territory of Israel be labeled as coming from an “Israeli colony”. But the term “Israeli colony” is not legally required under EU law.

    Following the French decision, the Israeli Psagot winery filed a lawsuit alleging unlawful discrimination against Jewish companies. This lawsuit was eventually heard at the ECJ.

    “I am not a psychologist, so I can’t tell you what the motives are behind Europe’s targeting of Jewish-owned businesses. Perhaps it is anti-Semitism rearing its ugly head again, perhaps it is blind ignorance, or even a desire to do the right thing,” Yaakov Berg, CEO of the Psagot winery, told the Free Beacon. “Regardless, the application of the current EU trade directive to label goods from Jewish producers, and only Jewish producers in the West Bank is discriminatory and illegal.”

    Berg says Jewish businesses should not be penalized for the Israeli government’s policies.

    “We are not the Israeli government,” he said. “Psagot winery is not responsible for Israeli government policy.” he said the EU “would definitely run afoul of US law”.

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