Denmark to Set Rules on Some Israeli Products (WSJ) WALL STREET JOURNAL) By FLEMMING EMIL HANSEN COPENHAGEN, Denmark 05/27/12)
WALL STREET JOURNAL
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COPENHAGEN—Denmark will introduce new labeling guidelines in the next
two weeks for Israeli products from Jewish settlements in the
Palestinian West Bank.
The labeling, which is modeled on a similar U.K. initiative from
2009, will specifically identify imported goods from the Israeli
settlements and be mandatory for fruit and vegetable produce, but
voluntary for other products where the identification of country of
origin isn´t demanded by law, the Danish Veterinary and Food
"The illegal settlements undermine the pursuit of a two-state
solution and are thereby a major stumbling block for peace in the
Middle East," Danish Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal said. He said the
Danish government aims to raise public awareness about produce from
the Israeli settlements.
"We will then leave it up to the consumers to make an informed
decision," Mr. Søvndal said, adding that Denmark, with its European
Union partners, will also work to strengthen the bloc´s ban on duty-
free imports from the settlements.
On May 15, the EU Foreign Affairs Council said it is deeply concerned
about developments on the ground in the Palestinian areas, "which
threaten to make a two-state solution impossible." The council
underlined that the settlements remain illegal under international
law, irrespective of recent decisions by the government of Israel.
"The EU expresses deep concern regarding settler extremism and
incitement by settlers in the West Bank. The EU condems continuous
settler violence and deliberate provocations against Palestinian
civilians," the council said, calling on the Israeli government
to "bring the perpetrators to justice and to comply with its
obligations under international law".
Still, Denmark remains the only EU country to join the U.K. in its
efforts to raise awareness of products imported from the Israeli
Palestinian Ambassador to Denmark Amro Alhourani welcomed the new
Danish labeling as a reflection of a strong Danish engagement with
regard to human rights and international law.
"It is crucial to create results on the ground," Mr. Alhourani said
in a statement. "The settlements on the West Bank are illegal, that
has been determined by the international society. Therefore, it is
important that words also lead to actions."
The Israeli Embassy in Copenhagen was quick to dismiss the move as a
counterproductive political gesture.
"This is a counter-step that won´t help solve the Israeli-Palestinian
problem. It makes us feel that Denmark doesn´t want to help find a
solution," said Dan Oryan, deputy head of mission at the Israeli
Embassy to Denmark.
"It will rather give the Palestinian side the feeling that they don´t
need to come to the negotiating table to reach a solution," said Mr.
The chief impact of the new labeling guidelines is likely to be
symbolic. The Israeli settlements produce mainly fruit and vegetables
for export. The largest Danish supermarket chain, Dansk Supermarked,
has already banned all produce from the settlements. Purchasing
manager Peter Loeth said the company has specifically instructed its
suppliers that it won´t accept settlement produce.
"The new guidelines won´t have any effect for us. We have already
made the choice not to accept these products," Mr. Loeth said.
The British Retail Consortium, the U.K. trade association for
retailers, said it doesn´t have any data on the impact of the
labeling program. Write to Flemming Emil Hansen at
Flemming.Hansen@dowjones.com (Copyright © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)
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