Holland Opposes Ban on Israeli Products
Prime Minister Mark Rutte announces opposition to Israeli ban, adding they must enforce Europe's legislation on labelling settlement goods
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has voiced his country's opposition to an import ban on Israeli products, although he added that they must enforce the European Union legislation on labelling settlement goods.
In a letter to the European Jewish Congress (EJC) a Dutch official (writing in Rutte’s name) stated "I would like to stress that the Netherlands opposes any type of import ban or the boycott of Israeli products." The letter, which was obtained by JTA, had been sent to Moshe Kantor, the president of the EJC as a response to several letters Kantor sent out to EU heads of states. In these letters, Kantor stressed that in labelling products from areas that the EU considers illegal settlements, they were being counterproductive to peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians.
Rutte’s letter came following reports that, in July, Dutch supermarkets were boycotting settlement goods, which the supermarkets denied. In March, the Dutch government advised businesses to refrain from labelling products that originated in the Golan Heights, West Bank, and Eastern Jerusalem, as "Made in Israel." Indeed, this too came following a decision in 2012 by the EU Foreign Affairs Council to label goods from settlements that "obliges the Dutch government to fully and effectively enforce existing EU legislation," Rutte said.
As of yet, the council has yet to release any sort of practical guideline regarding the labelling of goods.
Kantor’s letter was not responded to quite so tactfully from other members of the EU. William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary replied by saying "I’m afraid that I cannot agree with your concerns about EU labelling of settlement produce. The settlements are illegal under international law, an obstacle to peace."
On September 16, Kantor took out a full-page ad in the Financial Times of London arguing against new EU guidelines that prohibited EU funding for Israeli projects in areas the European Union identifies as settlements. The ad stated that the guidelines singled out Israel alone to be criticized, and "serve to minimize the chances of lasting peace."