Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon expressed support at Sunday’s cabinet meeting for a new policy that would require exports from West Bank settlements to be specially marked with their city of origin.
The measure, a controversial move with far-reaching political implications, was pushed forward by Israel’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Ehud Olmert last week. The new labels would lessen European Union (EU) pressure on the Jewish state to distinguish between products made inside the country and across the line marking the Palestinian territories.
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom argued against applying the new Rules of Origin, saying that Olmert had taken matters into his own hands, reported Jpost.“If you place a label on a product saying it is made in the Golan or made in Barkan or the Jordan Valley, you are determining the borders of the state. You are saying these areas are not part of Israel,” said another senior official.
In recent years the EU has argued that Israeli products manufactured in Jewish West Bank settlements should not enjoy the same duty-free status as products made in other parts of the country. In August, the British government warned local food and agricultural importers that they will now be responsible for paying taxes on goods manufactured in Jewish settlements located in the Israeli occupied territories. The warning indicated that the zero-duty agreement between Israel and the EU "does not extend to goods originating in territories occupied during the 1967 war, including Gaza and the West Bank."
In a similar move, London’s prominent department store Harrods took off its shelves products, which pro-Palestinian groups claimed were labeled Israeli-made although they were in fact produced in Jewish settlements in Israeli-occupied territories. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )