Holland opposes Israeli product ban but will label settlement goods
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The Netherlands opposes any kind of import ban on Israeli products, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, though it must enforce European Union legislation on labeling settlement goods.
“I would like to stress that the Netherlands opposes any type of import ban or the boycott of Israeli products,” a Dutch official wrote in Rutte’s name last month to the European Jewish Congress, or EJC.
The letter, obtained by JTA, was sent to EJC President Moshe Kantor in response to Kantor’s letter to several EU heads of states, including Rutte, in which Kantor warned that labeling products from areas the European Union considers illegal settlements was counterproductive to reaching a peace settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians.
A decision last year by the EU Foreign Affairs Council to label settlement goods “obliges the Dutch government to fully and effectively enforce existing EU legislation,” Rutte wrote.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague struck a less conciliatory note in his reply to Kantor’s letter.
“I am afraid that I cannot agree with your concerns about EU labeling of settlement produce,” he wrote. “The settlements are illegal under international law, an obstacle to peace.”
On Sept. 16, Kantor published a full-page ad in the Financial Times of London arguing against new EU guidelines prohibiting EU funding for Israeli projects in areas the European Union considers settlements.
The ad said the guidelines singled out Israel for criticism and “serve to minimize the chances for lasting peace.” — jta
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