EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has said the bloc is due to decide on how to mark products made in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Most countries consider the settlements illegal.
The European Union will soon decide on labeling rules to inform consumers if imported Israeli products come from Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, the bloc's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Saturday in a press briefing.
"The work is close to being finished but it is still ongoing," Mogherini said, referring to the final discussions on how to formulate the future guidelines.
Her comments came following a meeting of foreign ministers from the 28 EU member states in Luxembourg.
The EU has been debating the labels for several years but has never put in place any measure, wary of upsetting attempts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Settlements 'impediment to peace'
Some EU countries, such as Britain, already issue guidance to shops so consumers can see if goods are made in the settlements, which most countries consider illegal, as they are not located within Israel's internationally recognized borders.
In April, 16 foreign ministers sent a letter to Mogherini, which was published by the Israeli newspaper "Haaretz," asking her to push forward the labeling initiative.
The letter was signed by the foreign ministers of France, Britain, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Malta, Austria, Ireland, Portugal, Slovania, Hungary, Finland, Denmark, Holland and Luxembourg.
The ministers wrote that the labeling of settlement products "is an important step in the full implementation of EU longstanding policy in relation to the preservation of the two-state solution."
Moreover, they argued that "the continued expansion of Israeli illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and other territories occupied by Israel in 1967, threatens the prospect of a just and final peace agreement."
The establishment of such guidelines will likely result in a strong reaction from Israel.
Israeli analysts claim that Mogherini is worried that the move, although apparently unstoppable, will stand in the way of her fulfilling one of the main targets she has set herself - restarting the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
Mogherini herself, however, stressed that the decision had already been made a few years ago, before she took office, and that she was only overseeing its implementation..
"We have to make sure that consumers can distinguish products that come from territories occupied by Israel," said Jean Asselborn, the foreign minister of Luxembourg, which holds the six-month presidency of the EU.
"We are just applying international rules," he told a news conference, adding that he expected a solution by the end of the year.
Israel's foreign ministry refused to comment on the topic.