Sunday, November 29, 2015

Israel suspends contact with EU on Mideast peace process issues

EU expresses "surprise" that its bad actions reap bad consequences.
(JPost) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday instructed the Foreign Ministry to reassess the involvement of European Union institutions in the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Until the reevaluation process is complete, the premier ordered that diplomatic contact with EU bodies and their representatives be suspended.

Netanyahu, who also serves as foreign minister, issued the directive in light of the EU's recent decision to publish legislation guidelines on labeling Israeli settlement products.

However, the Prime Minister's Office underlined in a statement that Israel maintains diplomatic ties with individual European countries such as Germany, the UK and France.

In response to Netanyahu's move, EU Ambassador in Israel Lars Faaborg Andersen expressed "surprise" over the prime minister's decision.
 Progressives have a tough time understanding that actions have consequences.

"We found out about it from the media and we are trying to clarify what it means," he said.

Earlier in November, Jerusalem decided to suspend diplomatic dialogue with the EU for a few weeks to strongly protest Brussel’s decision to issue the guidelines that allow member states to place consumer labels “Not made in Israel” on products produced over the Green Line.

The EU has consistently downplayed the impact of the guidelines as a technical matter. A EU commission spokesman said they would simply “ensure the uniform application of the rules concerning the indication of origin of Israeli settlement products. The aim is to ensure effective implementation of existing EU legislation.”

Since 2003, the EU has placed a numerical code on Israeli imports to allow customs to distinguish between products made within the Green Line and those that are produced beyond it.

Products produced in east Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the West Bank are excluded from the Israel Free Trade agreement with the EU.

The guidelines extend that process one step further, providing member states legal instructions as to the placement of consumer labels on relevant products to inform European consumers that they are not made in Israel.