EU poised to 'take measures' against Israeli food
03.09.14 @ 09:24
BRUSSELS - The EU is poised to take “appropriate measures” against Israeli settler food exports after Israel failed to respond to its complaints on safety certificates.
The European Commission, on 28 July, wrote to Israeli authorities asking them to stop issuing safety papers for “products of animal origin” sold by Israeli companies based on Palestinian land.
It gave them one month to take the settler companies off a list of Israeli-eligible entities.
The commission’s logic is that Israeli food authorities have no jurisdiction in the occupied Palestinian territories.
It says the problem was highlighted during a routine audit by the commission’s Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) on Israeli dairy products late last year.
The past nine months have seen the EU put pressure on Israel over settlement expansion by blocking EU grants for settler entities and by threatening to publish an EU code for retail labels on settler goods.
On Tuesday, it urged Israel to reverse its decision to appropriate 1,000 acres of Palestinian land in the West Bank for a new settler city.
A commission spokesman, Roger Waite, told EUobserver “there is no link at all with the current situation in the region” and the animal products move, however.
A second commission spokesman, Frederic Vincent, added that the EU’s actions “will depend on replies from the Israeli authorities… the assumption is that Israel will take appropriate corrective measures”.
But as of Monday (1 September), Vincent told this website: “We're still expecting a response”.
EU rules governing Israeli safety certificates, labels of origin, and preferential tariffs are a complicated mass of directives and regulations stretching back for decades.
Meanwhile, the animal products letter coincided with a separate FVO complaint about poor animal health conditions in chicken farms in Israel proper.
The FVO also sent a letter, in August, with a 25-day deadline, asking for remedial action.
The commission’s Waite told EUobserver “the FVO draft report does not address the issue of the Israeli territories and the shortcomings identified would not justify a commission ban [on exports], certainly not at this stage”.
But the overall situation has prompted concern in Israel the EU is imposing some kind of food embargo to punish it for settler expansion.
For her part, Sharon Rappaport, a spokeswoman for the Israeli embassy to the European Union, said she has “no doubt that the EU position is a political one”.
She voiced concern for the welfare of Palestinian workers employed by settler companies. “It's a position we don't agree with and don't find to be useful (especially when taking into account the thousands of Palestinians employed in this sector)”, she said.
“It should be clear that the boundaries of the state of Israel will only be determined by direct negotiations between us and the Palestinians”.