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EU plan to label settlement products angers Israel

European foreign ministers have raised the ire of Israel by calling for special labeling for products from Israeli settlements. The move has been compared to "a yellow star" by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The foreign ministers of 16 EU states sent a letter on Friday to the bloc's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urging progress on labeling.

It was signed by the foreign ministers of Austria, Belgium, Britain, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

"We would welcome you taking the lead in the (European) Commission in order to complete this important work on labeling settlement produce/products," the foreign ministers said in the letter, reprinted by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

They added that Israeli settlement building "threatens the prospect of a just and final peace agreement," and that labeling would make it clear to consumers what they were buying as endorsed by EU leaders at a summit in 2012.

"European consumers must ... have confidence in knowing the origin of goods they are purchasing," the ministers wrote. "The correct and coherent implementation of EU consumer protection and EU labeling legislation is necessary to ensure that consumers are not being misled."

Nazi parallels

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman slammed the EU ministers' letter, sarcastically saying in a radio interview that products out of the settlements might just as well be marked with "a yellow star."

Jews in Hitler's German Reich and its occupied areas were forced to wear yellow stars with the German word for "Jew" written on it. Lieberman, a member of the ultra-nationalist Israel Beiteinu party, also described labeling plans as "hypocritical" and "cynical."

bk/msh (dpa, AFP)

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