Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Belgium: FM Didier Reynders is driving force behind letter asking for labelling of "illegal" Israel products

Politico reports:
In April this year, 16 foreign ministers wrote to Mogherini, urging her to publish the guidelines because “continued expansion of Israeli illegal settlements … threatens the prospect of a just and final peace agreement,” and because “European consumers must indeed have confidence in knowing the origin of goods they are purchasing.”

The driving force behind the letter was Didier Reynders, the foreign minister of Belgium. Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Romania — who diplomats say are often reluctant to criticize Israel — did not sign the letter.

Finally, in September the European Parliament voted on a resolution that took note of the ministers’ letter “encouraging” Mogherini to publish the guidelines.

In all fairness it has to be said that Belgian Jews (CCLJ) are strongly in favour of the labeling and never miss an opportunity to criticise Israel and its government ...

It is also worth pointing out that no such letters are sent to Morocco (W. Sahara) or to Turkey (Cyrprus) and that it was sent three months after the massacres perpetrated by Muslims in Paris (Hyper-Cacher and Charlie Hebdo) and seven months before the monstrous massacres in Paris which left 130 people dead and 368 wounded. In some way or another the perpetrators were linked to Belgium aid in particular to Brussels.  No wonder that lack of trust in politicians and institutions is such a big issue in Europe.

Ambassador Ron Dermer railed against the double standards applied by the European establishment:
“The Jewish state is singled out and held to a different standard than other countries,” Dermer wrote. “Of the over 200 unresolved territorial disputes around the world, Europe decided that only these Jewish-made products deserved to be labeled.”

“In response to this effort to cast a beacon of freedom, tolerance and decency as a pariah state, I have decided this holiday season to send you products that were made in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights,” he added.
A Politico reader makes two valid points in the Comments box:
There are good arguments that can be made in favour of the labeling of goods from disputed areas, including the settlements. But it seems difficult to refute the Israelis’ arguments that the EU is singling them out. 200 disputed areas around the world, but the EU does not call for the labeling of goods from the vast majority of those areas. I have not seen any good argument why that might be the case.
I am also unsure as to how this will support the EU’s goal to become more relevant in the Middle East peace process. No player that is completely rejected by either the Palestinians or the Israelis will play much of a role. The labeling of the goods ensures that Israel will not accept a significant EU role. In practice, that may not be much of an issue as there is not much of a peace process at the moment. But the EU itself has made clear that it wants to become more relevant in the process, and this is surely not how to go about it.
Others are not fooled either:
The EU is hypocritical because it actually cooperates with the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus and collaborates with the Moroccan occupation of western Sahara.

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