EU initiative to label products from settlements slammed

Jerusalem, Sep 9 (IANS) The EU’s deliberation on labelling products made in the West Bank settlements will only push the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks away, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has said.

Rivlin, in his meeting with President of the European Council Donald Tusk, discussed the EU deliberations of whether to mark products manufactured in Jewish settlements, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Peace cannot be imposed,” Rivlin said in a statement.

“The labelling of Israeli products will only be a obstacle to peace,” the president said, adding “barriers to trade and cooperation” will not be able to bring both sides back to the negotiations table.

The last round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians took place between July 2013 and April 2014, but ended abruptly without results.

The EU have deliberated for several years on whether to mark products originating from the settlements on lands that Israel occupied in the 1967 Mid-east War.

These lands were slated to be part of a future Palestinian state amid the two-state solution.

While proponents say the move would increase pressure on Israel to resume negotiations amid the economic sanction, opponents of the move say it is part of a delegitimisation campaign against Israel, which would push peace talks further away.

In April, 16 European countries urged EU officials to advance the labelling of the products in member countries originating from the settlements.

The EU’s foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini on Sunday said the union will finalise its decision on the matter in the near future.

Israel’s status deteriorated on the international front in recent years amid the halt of negotiations, the ongoing construction in the settlements orchestrated by right-wing governments, as well as nationalist legislation moves by the parliament.

Several countries have already announced their recognition of a Palestinian state, a move that Israel said would motivate Palestinians to make gains outside of the negotiations table.

The international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), calling to boycott Israel, had made significant gains worldwide in recent months.

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