The EU decision that goods manufactured in West Bank Jewish settlements and the Golan Heights should be marked accordingly led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to instruct that the dialogue with the EU on all matters related to the peace process with the Palestinians should be halted. This raised eyebrows because there has been no Israel-Palestinian peace process since 2014, and even then EU involvement was marginal.
But the Israeli government is not stopping there. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem means to single out six countries that are seen as implementing the instructions to label goods made in Jewish settlements: Sweden, Belgium, Ireland, France, Luxembourg and Malta.
All six countries are also involved in projects to assist the Palestinians. A senior Israeli diplomatic source said, "We see these six countries as having been leading this measure for some time. At the same time some of these countries are involved in various projects to rehabilitate the Gaza strip as well as civilian projects to strengthen the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. It is important for them to be involved in these processes and so far they have received broad cooperation from Israel. That is about to change and they are about to begin finding difficulties and obstacles."
This is a recommendation that has been passed on to the Prime Minister who is also the acting Foreign Minister. Senior sources in Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs say the recommendation has also been passed onto Defense Ministry personnel working in the West Bank. "The aim is to make it clear to the countries pushing the subject of marking goods that such conduct has a price in the Palestinian sphere. The decision to suspend diplomatic dialogue with the EU is only the beginning within this context. Israel has shown much good will over the years regarding various initiatives by Europe in the Palestinian sphere but it is no longer logical to continue this approach if Europe is becoming more extreme and taking measures like marking goods and encouraging a boycott."
Of the six countries "targeted" as supporting the marking of goods, the most significant is France. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes it will be difficult for France, which supports projects in the West Bank and Gaza worth millions of euros, to continue operating there. The senior source said, "France is an important country and in a different category to the other countries but there is enormous anger over their conduct. This is not only over marking goods but also because of their actions in the UN Security Council." In two weeks time Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely is expected to visit France to discuss the good marking issue.
Yesterday Channel 10 reported that as part of Israel's sanctions against countries supporting the labelling of goods, Netanyahu declined a request to meet with Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders who was planning a visit to Israel. Israel's Foreign Ministry denied the report and said that Netanyahu's schedule was simply too busy for a meeting with Reynders. However, Israeli Foreign Ministry sources told "Walla" that it was no coincidence and that Hotovely had also refused to meet with Reynders.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 3, 2015
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