ECJ ruling on labeling of goods from Israeli settlements

Tuesday, 12.11.2019
18:36 clock

The European Supreme Court has ruled that products originating from Israeli settlements in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 may not be considered products of Israel in the EU. Without the indication "Israeli settlement" on the label the consumer could be "misled" with the purchase, said the ECJ on Tuesday. If this information is lacking, the consumer can not know "whether such food comes from a locality or an aggregate of localities constituting a settlement established in one of these areas in violation of the rules of international humanitarian law" Luxembourg judge.


The court upheld the position of the EU Commission in November 2015. "As the Golan Heights and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) are not part of Israeli territory under international law, the term 'product of Israel' is considered incorrect and misleading." , the EU Commission had stated at that time. Instead, according to the EU authority, the region would have to be indicated on the labels with the addition "Israeli settlement".

Since goods from Israeli settlements were still declared as products from Israel at that time in Germany, the Brussels communication caused considerable confusion. At that time, the traditional Berlin department store KaDeWe announced that it had taken the corresponding products, for example wine and cosmetics, out of the assortment and would only "pick them up again after having received the correct accolade". After the SPIEGEL reported about it, it hailed protest. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "This department store was Jewish owned, the Nazis expropriated it, and it is absurd that this department store now features products from the settlements in Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights."

  Israeli ambassador Yakov Hadas-Handelsmann accused SPIEGEL of putting the KaDeWe management under pressure "under false pretenses". It was not necessary for the KaDeWe to mark the wines.

Umetikettierung in German trade since 2015


This is contradicted only by the ECJ. And even the traders started to change the labels at the end of 2015. This is confirmed, for example, by the Schleswig-Holstein-based Champagne and Wine Distribution Company (CWG), DER SPIEGEL. "In agreement with the state of Schleswig-Holstein's wine inspection, all incoming goods have been labeled with the addition from the supplier since December 2015," said Robert Franke, Purchasing Manager and Product Manager at CWG.

  At appointments with the wine control, it was always "about incoming goods and legal requirements of the incoming goods from Israel" gone. "In the context of these meetings, the information from Brussels was also an issue at the end of 2015 and the recommendation was made to supplement the addition for future labeling", says Franke. The online store "Deli King" from Hamburg has also been adding a note to its website for a long time: "European law obliges us to inform you that the products listed in this category are from Israeli settlements (Occupied Territories) ) come."


Politics West Bank: Israeli settlement south of Jerusalem

Volker Beck, lecturer at the Center for Religious Studies (CERES) of the Ruhr University Bochum, criticizes the practice as one-sided and discriminatory. "I have no problem with correct designation of origin of goods from conflict areas, even if they affect Israel and the occupied territories," said the former Greens Bundestag MP SPIEGEL. However, the present practice has for four years unilaterally concerned Israel and the Israeli-Arab conflict, ignoring all other similar or similar conflicts.

Foreign policy in the guise of consumer protection?


The ECJ ruling Beck critically. "What comes here legally and bureaucratically in the guise of consumer protection is, in truth, foreign policy." Responsibility for this is not borne by the ECJ but by the EU Commission. In fact, political motives were behind the 2015 EU Commission communication. Since calls to stop the controversial Israeli settlement construction had no effect, sought the EU Commission in existing EU law for a lever.

  According to Beck, the EU Commission's position on settlement products complies with the working definition of anti-Semitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The term antisemitic refers to, among other things, "the application of double standards by demanding of Israel behavior that is not expected or demanded of any other [demokratischen] state."

  The Israeli embassy in Germany also condemned the ECJ decision on Tuesday in a six-part tweet as "instrument of a political campaign against Israel." The sole purpose of the ruling is to "separate Israel and apply double standards to Israel," the diplomats said.

  Anders sees it the CSU foreign policy Christian Schmidt. "The judgment of the ECJ is to be respected and can also be understood from the standard of international law," Schmidt told SPIEGEL. "It is thus in line with another ruling that states that products from the Western Sahara region should not be declared land and water as quasi Moroccan."


Schmidt was Federal Minister of Agriculture in 2015 and responsible for the implementation of EU consumer law in Germany. The judgment of the ECJ was "inappropriate to be read as a political message". It merely describes the international legal situation as it is and tries to inform consumers with as few relevant information as possible. "From my own experience as a minister with early responsibility, I recommend not to dramatize this question and to remain skeptical when this is done," says Schmidt.

  Schmidt can not recognize an indirect boycott call in the ECJ ruling. Finally, the judgment does not prevent the products in question from continuing to be traded, according to the ex-minister. However, critics warn that the Bundestag's anti-Semitic boycott movement BDS could exploit the ECJ ruling.

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