Israel bristles as Norway imposes labels for products from West Bank and Golan Heights

Norway announced that Israeli agricultural products from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights must be labeled with their place of origin, prompting a rebuke from Israel.

In a statement announcing the move, Norway’s Foreign Ministry noted a 2019 ruling by the European Union’s highest court requiring products from these regions to be labeled as coming from an “Israeli settlement.” “.

“Foodstuffs originating in Israeli-occupied areas must be marked with the area from which the product originates, and that it originates from an Israeli settlement if that is the case,” the statement reads, “especially wine, olive oil, fruits, vegetables and potatoes.”

“Norway considers Israeli settlements in the occupied territories to be contrary to international law,” he added.

Norway is not a member of the EU, but is part of the European single market. It is also part of the European Free Trade Association, a four-country organization that signed a free trade agreement with Israel in 1992.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry denounced Norway’s decision, saying it “will not contribute to the advancement of relations between Israel and the Palestinians and will have a negative impact on bilateral relations between Israel and Norway, as well as on the relevance of Norway for the promotion of relations between Israel and the Palestinians”. ”

A Foreign Ministry spokesperson clarified that Israel’s position was “equally clear” regarding the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, but said the West Bank is what is “commercially relevant”. Unlike the West Bank, Israel annexed both the Golan and East Jerusalem in moves that are not widely recognized internationally.

Israeli workers inspect barrels in a cellar in the West Bank settlement of Psagot, February 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

Along with the 2019 court ruling, the European Commission – the EU’s executive – passed regulations in 2015 banning the labeling of products from areas it considers Israeli-occupied as made in Israel, a decision which it attributed to the right of consumers to know the origins of products.

However, most European countries do not follow the EU directive, although France and Belgium have imposed labeling requirements.

The issue has long been a flashpoint for Israeli diplomacy. Former US President Donald Trump, at the end of his presidency, issued an order requiring settlement products to be labeled in the US as originating from Israel. Previously, US policy required products made in the West Bank to be labeled as such.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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