Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal is calling for a produce labelling system for all produce emanating from Israeli settlements which are, as he says ‘illegal under international law’.
“This is a move that will clearly show consumers that this produce has been produced under conditions that not only the Danish government, but also the European governments have rejected. Then it is up to consumers whether they are prepared to buy the produce,” Søvndal says.
In practice, the labelling system will be an option for supermarkets that will be able to choose whether to introduce it or not – rather like the system being used in Britain, which Søvndal says has been a major success.
“I am sure that the labelling system will have a major and direct effect on imports. But it is impossible to say precisely how much,” Søvndal says.
The labelling initiative comes in the wake of a recent EU decision to tighten control of the trade agreement with Israel, which exempts goods produced in Israel from duty.
“Our intention is to make sure that the trade agreement is not used to smuggle settlement produce which was not though as part of the arrangement,” Søvndal says.
Asked whether the initiative is a step on the road to a boycott of settlement produce Søvndal says: “Yes this is a step that will clearly show consumers that these goods have been produced under conditions that not only the Danish government, but also the European governments have said no to.”
According to Søvndal, stricter controls and labelling of goods from the settlements should be seen as part of the EU’s support for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine which, he says is being made much more difficult because of the illegal settlements.
He adds the move is also to show Palestinians that the world is ‘concerned that these illegal settlements should not be allowed to continue’.
The Liberals and Danish People’s Party are against the move, calling it political symbolism and against Israeli itself. But Søvndal says: “This is not targeted against Israel, but against illegal settlements, so that is something we can handle”.
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Edited by Julian Isherwood