UK moves to label settlement goods 11Dec09 December 12, 2009

Ma’an News Agency -  11 December 2009


The British government plans to adopt more stringent labeling standards for products made in illegal Israeli West Bank settlements.

Until now, settlement-made products have been labeled “Produce of the West Bank” in the UK. New government guidelines suggest supermarkets make a distinction between “Israeli settlement produce” and “Palestinian produce.”

This is part of voluntary guidance issued by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), according to the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

EU rules already require that products be labeled to make a distinction between those made inside Israel’s 1967 borders and those made in the occupied territories.

The new guidelines, if implemented, could make it easier for consumers to boycott Israeli products, particularly those made in settlements, as called for by Palestinian civil society.

The Guardian reports that some British supermarkets sell settlement products and label them as “West Bank” produce. The supermarket Waitrose, for example, imports herbs from settler farms, chops and packages them as “West Bank” goods.

The retailers Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Somerfield, John Lewis and B&Q also sell settlement-made goods, according to the newspaper.

Some 500,000 Jewish Israelis live in settlements built on land taken from Palestinians throughout the West Bank, which was occupied in 1967.

Britain’s foreign office made clear that they do not endorse boycott of Israel.

This is emphatically not about calling for a boycott of Israel,” a Foreign Office spokesman told the Guardian.

“We believe that would do nothing to advance the peace process. We oppose any such boycott of Israel. We believe consumers should be able to choose for themselves what produce they buy. We have been very clear both in public and in private that settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace.”

The UK’s new guidelines come as the Palestinian Authority (PA) also moves to crack down on products made in settlements. The PA has issued orders for security forces to seize goods made in settlements from Palestinian merchants.

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