Saturday

18th Jan 2020

Czech MPs join Hungary in saying No to Israel labels

  • Labels to help consumers make 'informed' choice (Photo: Flickr.com)

The Czech lower house urged the government not to implement an EU code on labels for Israeli settler exports on Thursday (17 December).

MPs from all government and opposition parties, except the Communist party, said in a resolution, according to the Reuters news agency, that the EU code is “motivated by a political positioning versus the state of Israel."

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Daniel Hermann, the Czech culture minister, noted: "It is necessary to reject these attempts that try to discriminate against the only democracy in the Middle East."

Frantisek Laudat, an MP from the conservative TOP09 party, said the code evokes “marking Jewish people during World War II.”

Marek Benda, an MP from the liberal-conservative ODS party, said it's anti-Semitic. “If the state of Israel fell, Europe would finally fall as well,” he said.

The Czech vote comes after Hungary, on Monday, flat-out rejected implementation of the labels. Hungary's foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, said labelling doesn't contribute to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and increases unemployment among Palestinians.

"It is a bad and unreasonable tool," he said.

Germany and Greece, two other Israeli allies, have stuck by the code.

Also on Monday, EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini said the EU Council unanimously supports the scheme.

But when asked if states who don’t take action will face punitive measures, she said it’s up to them to decide how to implement the EU “guidelines.”

The code, published last month by the European Commission, says most farm products, wine, and cosmetics made by settlers in the Israeli-occupied West Bank or Golan Heights must be labelled so that EU consumers can make an “informed transactional decision.”

The Commission has also been fuzzy on implementation, however.

When asked by this website, it said the code is voluntary. It said some of the EU consumer laws on which it is based are binding. But it has never launched infringement proceedings on non-compliance with the laws, some of which have been on the books for 10 years.

For her part, Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s deputy FM, in Paris on Thursday called for France to also ignore the code.

“The decision to label products precisely at this time gives a tail wind to terror,” she said, The Jerusalem Post, an Israeli daily, reports.

EU diplomats say the US gave tacit approval to the labels due to Israel’s settlement expansion.

But a bipartisan group of congressmen on Thursday introduced a resolution saying the labels "encourage and prompt consumers to boycott all Israeli goods. This is counter-productive to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, [and] harmful to US national security interests.”

Israeli settlers export between €100 million and €300 million a year of products to the EU, less than one percent of overall trade.

More than half a million of them live on Palestinian land, which Israel conquered in the 1967 war.

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