Dutch Gov't Defends Labeling Israeli Settlement Products Despite Challenge From Parliament

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The Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the occupied West Bank on the outskirts of Jerusalem on November 26, 2019. 
The Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the occupied West Bank, November 2019. Credit: AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP

The Dutch government told parliament on Tuesday it would maintain its support for the European Union's policy of labeling goods produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and act to enforce it.

In a letter to parliament, which was obtained by Haaretz, the government says it rejects the claim that labeling the origin of settlement products constitutes unequal treatment of Israel.

A motion tabled last week in parliament called on the government not to implement the recent ruling by the European Court of Justice, unless similar policies applied to all disputed occupied territories around the world.

The government emphasized its commitment to the regulations of the European Union, saying they are meant to help European consumers to obtain accurate information about the products they purchase.

The government suggested that any complaints regarding product labeling be referred separately to the authorities.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu speak to the press in the Hague, September 9, 2016. Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

The parliamentary motion, whose significance was primarily symbolic, was the result of cooperation between the Christian Union party, which submitted the bill, and staff members from the Israeli embassy in the Netherland. It passed in a vote of 82 to 68.

The motion said implementing the labeling requirement only for goods originating in Israeli settlements was unfair, and called on the Dutch government not to enforce it.‎

Earlier this month, the European Court of Justice ruled that EU states must identify products from Israeli settlements by stating their origin on the label. 

Simply indicating that goods originate in the state of Israel, when in fact they came from an occupied territory, could mislead consumers about the fact that Israel "is present in the territories concerned as an occupying power and not as a sovereign entity," the European Court of Justice (ECJ) found. The ruling upheld a long-standing EU policy of differentiating between Israel proper and the settlements, and specifically an interpretative notice on labelling from 2015.

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