Israel Slams Norway for Marking Products Made in West Bank Settlements

Norway's decision to label food products manufactured in West Bank settlements will 'adversely affect bilateral relations,' Israel's Foreign Ministry charges

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The Psagot winery.
The Psagot winery in the West Bank.Credit: AP

Israel's Foreign Ministry condemned on Saturday Norway's decision to mark food products manufactured in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, charging that such a move will harm Israeli-Norwegian ties.

"This decision will not contribute to the advancement of Israeli-Palestinian ties and will adversely affect bilateral relations between Israel and Norway, as well as Norway’s relevance to promoting relations between Israel and the Palestinians," the ministry said in a statement.

The Norwegian government announced Saturday that it would adopt the decision of a European Union court from 2019, which called on EU countries to mark Israeli food products manufactured in West Bank settlements.

The initial EU ruling was given following a decision by a court in France in 2018 not to enforce the EU directive with regard to products made at the Israeli Psagot winery in the West Bank. The union's Court of Justice stated that the label noting the place of production must not say “Israel,” but rather “the Israeli settlements."

According to the decision, the lack of such labeling misleads consumers, who “have no way of knowing, in the absence of any information capable of enlightening them in that respect, that a foodstuff comes from a locality or a set of localities constituting a settlement established in one of those territories in breach of the rules of international humanitarian law.”

Norway's statement also said the country recognizes Israeli territory as that under Israeli control prior to 1967, and considers Israeli settlements in the Golan Heights, Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, as contrary to international law.

Norway chairs the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, which meets several times a year to coordinate the delivery of international aid to Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority. Israel is among the participants in the meetings, which also include representatives from the U.S., the EU, the UN and other like-minded donors.

The Foreign Ministry statement did not mention whether Israel would cease cooperation with the AHLC over Norway's move.

U.S. implications ahead of Biden visit

Norway's move comes amid murmurs that the Biden administration may consider walking back the Trump administration's move on the matter. Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared in 2019 that Israel’s West Bank settlements were “not per se inconsistent with international law,” condemning the European Court of Justice ruling that products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights must be labelled accordingly.

He became the first U.S. secretary of state to visit an Israeli settlement in the West Bank when he visited Psagot, where he declared products from the settlements can be labeled “Made in Israel” in a major policy shift.

Liberal Jewish organizations made this one of their primary demands of policy reversal after the Biden administration assumed power. While there has been no policy shift to date, it is believed to be on the administration's radar ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden's anticipated visit next month.

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