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Business

EU approves labeling of Israel settlement products

The European Commission has imposed labeling on goods produced in Jewish settlements on occupied land. The move has been a long time coming as the European Union does not recognize Israel's 1967 occupation.

The EU executive on Wednesday said it had

approved the labeling of products

from the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights in a move likely to cause friction between the bloc and Israel.

"The European Commission adopted the interpretative notice on indication of origin of goods from the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967," a technical statement from Brussels said.

Israel immediately condemned the move, saying there would be "implications" from the decision. "We regret that the EU has chosen - for political reasons - to take such an exceptional and discriminatory step," the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a first response. An EU source said the bloc's envoy had been summoned over the move.

The EU does not recognize Israel's occupation and say the labeling policy aims to distinguish between goods made inside the internationally accepted borders of Israel and those made outside.

No boycott

The economic impact of the move is largely considered to be negligible. Consumers wanting to avoid Israeli settlement goods will increasingly be able to do so, while those wanting to actively support Israel may now specifically seek out settlement products to buy, such as cosmetics, fruits, and vegetables.

Israeli ministers had earlier accused the EU of double standards, saying the bloc's labeling regulations were not enforced in other places of occupation such as northern Cyprus, Western Sahara, Kashmir or Tibet.

EU officials said the move was not about a boycott of any products, pointing out the bloc was not telling consumers what to do, but merely helped them decide if they wanted a product or not.

hg/pad (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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