The Netherlands opposes any kind of import ban on Israeli products, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, though it must enforce European Union legislation on labeling settlement goods.
“I would like to stress
that the Netherlands opposes any type of import ban or the boycott of
Israeli products,” a Dutch official wrote in Rutte’s name last month to
the European Jewish Congress, or EJC.
The letter, obtained by
JTA, was sent to EJC President Moshe Kantor in response to Kantor’s
letter to several EU heads of states, including Rutte, in which Kantor
warned that labeling products from areas the European Union considers as
illegal settlements was counterproductive to efforts to reach a peace
settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians.
followed reports in July that several Dutch supermarkets were boycotting
settlement goods, though the supermarkets denied they had such a
In March, the Dutch government advised business owners to
refrain from labeling products from the Golan Heights, West Bank and
eastern Jerusalem as made in Israel.
A decision last year by the
EU Foreign Affairs Council to label settlement goods “obliges the Dutch
government to fully and effectively enforce existing E.U. legislation,”
The council has yet to release practical guidelines on labeling.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague struck a less conciliatory note in his reply to Kantor’s letter.
am afraid that I cannot agree with your concerns about E.U. labeling of
settlement produce,” he wrote. “The settlements are illegal under
international law, an obstacle to peace.”
On Sept. 16, Kantor
published a full-page ad in the Financial Times of London arguing
against new EU guidelines prohibiting EU funding for Israeli projects in
areas the European Union considers settlements.
The ad said the guidelines singled out Israel for criticism and “serve to minimize the chances for lasting peace.”