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November 13, 2015 6:50 am

Major Jewish Group Commends Congressional Letter Urging Push-back Against New EU Labeling Guidelines of Israeli Goods

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A BDS protest in Ireland. Photo: Wikipedia.

A BDS protest in Ireland. Photo: Wikipedia.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee applauded a letter by a bipartisan group of senators and representatives urging US trade representative Ambassador Michael Froman to push back against new EU guidelines for labeling Israeli goods produced in West Bank Israeli settlements and the Golan Heights.

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Bejamin Cardin (D-MD), and Representatives Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Juan Vargas (D-CA), wrote in their letter that they were deeply concerned by the EU’s move to label settlement products.

Although the State Department on Thursday agreed with the EU parliament that the labeling was merely a technical issue in compliance with existing European trade regulations, the congressmen insisted it was a thinly veiled European attempt to “impose borders on Israel outside of a negotiated peace process.”

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The congressmen urged the Obama administration to pressure the EU through existing trade agreements that discourage US trading partners from taking politically motivated actions to enact a boycott of or divestment from Israel. They said these anti-BDS measures were included in the Trade Promotional Authority legislation that was signed into law earlier this year to prevent precisely the kind of measures being taken by Europe in labeling settlement products.

Before the official announcement of the labeling regulations, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) wrote a letter to European Commission Vice President Federica Mogherini urging the EU not to adopt the labeling policy.

Israeli politicians and Jewish groups roundly condemned the EU guidelines on Wednesday. Daniel Mariaschin, the vice president of B’nai B’rith, told The Algemeiner on Thursday that the guidelines represented a double standard being imposed on Israel. “There are many other areas in the world today that are in dispute, and for the EU to choose only the West Bank, Golan and Jerusalem is to apply a double standard,” he said, referring to the areas including east Jerusalem that would fall under these guidelines.

Additionally, he said, labeling settlement products as coming from somewhere other than Israel was a “concrete expression of prejudgment of the outcome of the Israeli-Palestinian issue,” and a signal to the Palestinians that they have “a friend in court” over the settlement issue.

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