Israel’s consumer protection authority has rejected a request that products made in Jewish settlements and outposts in the West Bank be labeled as products not manufactured in Israel. The Israeli-Palestinian organization Combatants for Peace had made the request based on the claim that such labeling would prevent misleading consumers who wish to avoid buying products made in Israeli settlements beyond its pre-1967 borders.
The Consumer Protection and Fair Trade Authority’s legal adviser, Hana Weinstock Tiri, wrote that the head of the agency does not have the authority to declare that the locations are “not in the country of ‘Israel.’” The law on consumer protection, she said, has been applied to the West Bank, and the provision regarding product labeling states that it also applies to products produced in the territories. “Needless to say, Israeli citizens also live in Judea and Samaria,” Weinstock Tiri stated, using the biblical names for the West Bank.
Although Israel has effectively annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, the West Bank has not been annexed to Israel.
“Not consuming products from the Israeli settlements and outposts in the West Bank is no different from not consuming animal products, or consuming only organic products and free-range eggs, or consuming kosher or non-kosher products, all of which can result from reasons of conscience, religion, ideology or the politics of a citizen of the State of Israel,” Eitay Mack, a lawyer presenting Combatants for Peace, wrote in support of the request for the labeling. “The misleading labeling of products from the Israeli settlements and outposts as Made in Israel creates unfair competition toward those same Israelis who genuinely (despite the difficulties involved in it) devote their lives to manufacturing within [the borders] of the State of Israel.”
In her response to Mack, the legal adviser to the consumer authority noted that in the past, the authority had not deemed the Palestinian Authority, which has administrative control over much of the West Bank, as “another country,” and therefore production plants in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority could mark their products as Made in Israel.
“In the past, we received a complaint that products produced in the Palestinian Authority were being labeled as produced in Israel and sold in Israel without the Israeli consumer being aware of the fact that they are produced in the territories of the Palestinian Authority,” Weinstock Tiri wrote. “In the framework of the complaint, we were asked to prohibit the sale of these products with the label Made in Israel and to carry out enforcement with regarding [consumer] deception.
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“We were of the view because there isn’t another ‘country’ in this territory and it involves a single customs [area], there is no basis on which to intervene as requested,” the consumer authority’s legal counsel said.