Foreign

Israeli settlement produce must be labelled in EU, top court rules

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Israeli food products originating in the country’s occupied territories must be labelled as such in the European Union (EU).
The bloc’s top court ruled on Tuesday after a Jewish organisation and a wine producer challenged a French law on the issue.
The EU has long criticised Israel’s settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian Territories.
An EU requirement from 2015 stipulating that goods from the region must be labelled accordingly is a sore point between the two sides.
In this particular case, a Jewish organisation and a company producing wine from the occupied territories went to court over a French rule requiring products from the occupied territories to reflect their origin.
The French Council of State turned to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for help in interpreting the relevant EU rules.
The Luxembourg based judges upheld the French legislation, arguing that failing to specify that produce came from occupied territories might be misleading.
Simply indicating that goods originated in the state of Israel, when in fact they came from an occupied territory, could mislead consumers about the fact that Israel is present in the territories concerned as an occupying power and not as a sovereign entity, the ECJ said in a statement.
Furthermore, produce from a settlement within an occupied territory must also be flagged accordingly, the court ruled.
Since consumers have no other way of knowing that the goods come from a settlement established in breach of the rules of international humanitarian law, it said.
Product information must allow consumers to make informed choices relating not only to health, economic, environmental and social considerations, but also to ethical considerations, as well as the observance of international law, the court said.
“Such considerations could influence consumers’ purchasing decisions,’’ the judges argued.
The ruling is in line with the legal opinion issued in June by Advocate General Gerard Hogan, one of the ECJ’s top advisers.
The case now reverts to the French courts for a final ruling, taking into account the ECJ verdict.
Palestinian Liberation Organisation Secretary General Saeb Erekat called the ECJ ruling a legal and political obligation.
“Our demand is not only for the correct labelling reflecting the certificate of origin of products coming from illegal colonial-settlements, but for the banning of those products from international markets,” he said in a statement.
HS/MST
Edited by Halima Sheji/Muhammad Suleiman Tola

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