US ‘deeply concerned’ by EU court decision on food from Palestinian territories

File photo. A banner reading 'Trump is a friend of Zion' is mounted on a pole next to the US embassy, as Israeli police block the roads during events marking the embassy inauguration in Jerusalem in Jerusalem, 14 May 2018. I [Atef Safad/EPA/EFE]

The United States is “deeply concerned” by a ruling by the European Union’s top court that food products from Palestinian territories must be labelled as such, the US State Department spokeswoman said Wednesday (13 November).

The European Court of Justice on Tuesday ruled that under EU rules on food labelling it must be clear where products are from — particularly if they come from Israeli settlements.

Products from the occupied territories must be labelled, says EU top court

Products from Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories must be labelled to avoid confusion with products that come from Israel itself, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Tuesday (12 November), in a move that provoked an angry response from pro-Israel lobbyists.

“The circumstances surrounding the labeling requirement in the specific facts presented to the Court are suggestive of anti-Israel bias,” spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement, noting that Washington is “deeply concerned” by the EU requirement.

The requirement “serves only to encourage, facilitate, and promote boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel,” according to Ortagus.

“The United States unequivocally opposes any effort to engage in BDS, or to otherwise economically pressure, isolate, or otherwise delegitimize Israel.”

The path toward resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Ortagus said, “is through direct negotiations.”

“America stands with Israel against efforts to economically pressure, isolate, or delegitimize it.”

The ruling by the EU’s top court effectively backs European Union guidelines issued in 2015 on labelling goods from Israeli-occupied areas, which prompted a furious Israeli response. At the time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared them to the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses.

The Luxembourg-based court ruled after France’s top tribunal asked for clarification of rules on labelling goods from the West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem, which the international community considers occupied Palestinian land, as well as the Golan Heights, which Israel took from Syria in 1967.

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