Israel’s deputy foreign minister has poured scorn on European plans to label products from the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, saying they were “regions of Israel” so labelling would make “no difference”.
Speaking ahead of EU plans due to be unveiled on Wednesday, Tzipi Hotovely equated labelling with boycotting and said the proposals would do nothing for the sake of peace in the Middle East.
“Our [European] friends will realise that at a time when terror is coming only from the Palestinian side, it is very clear this is not the way to promote coexistence,” she said.
Hotovely said that Israel was being “singled out” and that “labelling is the pure boycotting of Israel.” She added: “Whoever is trying to boycott certain regions of Israel is basically boycotting the state itself and creating delegitimisation of the state.”
Her comments, made to journalists on a tour of a West Bank factory, included a statement that settlements were “regions of Israel” so there was “no difference” between labelling products from there and other areas of the country.
Hotovely is travelling to Spain, Germany and France this week, in an effort to persuade some of the EU’s 28 states not to back the proposals.
However, the plan to differentiate products made within Israel’s internationally-recognised borders and those made in other territories have been widely expected for several years, and analysts say it could lead to further steps.
“There is a growing sense that something needs to be done,” said Yossi Mekelberg, associate fellow for the Middle East at the Chatham House. “It is not a huge step… but it could open the floodgates to other proposals.”