Israeli settlement goods should be labeled, court told

An Israeli settler prepares olive oil containers at the Achia Olive press factory in the Jewish settlement of Shilo in the occupied West Bank. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 June 2019
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Israeli settlement goods should be labeled, court told

  • To explain his ruling, Gerard Hogan refers the court to Europe’s previous opposition to apartheid

AMMAN: The European Court of Justice has been told that products from Israeli-occupied territories should be “clearly labeled as such to avoid misleading consumers.”

In his legal advice to the court, Advocate General Gerard Hogan drew on Europe’s previous opposition to apartheid to explain his ruling.

“Just as many European consumers objected to the purchase of South African goods in the pre-1994 apartheid era, present-day consumers may object, on similar grounds, to the purchase of goods from a particular country because, for example, it is not a democracy or because it pursues particular political or social policies which that consumer happens to find objectionable,” he said.

The former Irish judge said that under EU rules, labels must make it clear if products originate in the occupied territories and, in particular, if they come from Israeli settlements in those areas.

Ziad Khalil Abu Zayyad, the Fatah media spokesman, told Arab News that Israeli products are made on occupied lands that are controlled and used illegally by Israel, which prevents Palestinians from developing their own economy and production.

“Consumers of these products deserve to know that buying them supports and encourages the occupation policy that brings no benefit for anyone,” he said.

A spokesman for the EU told Arab News that Hogan’s legal advice is not binding on the Court of Justice.

“It is the role of the advocates general to propose to the court, in complete independence, a legal solution to the cases for which they are responsible. Judgment will be given at a later date. The EU court is due to decide next September,” the spokesman said.

The court is considering a request from France’s top tribunal for clarification of rules on labeling goods from the West Bank, including annexed East Jerusalem, which the international community considers occupied Palestinian land, as well as the Golan Heights, which Israel took from Syria in 1967.

France published guidelines in 2016 saying products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Golan Heights must carry labels making their precise origin clear, but this was challenged by the Organization Juive Europeenne (European Jewish Organization) and Psagot, a company that runs vineyards in the occupied territories.

The 2016 French ruling drew an angry response from Israel, which accused Paris of aiding a boycott of the Jewish state and of double standards by ignoring other territorial disputes around the world.

A major diplomatic row erupted between the EU and Israel in 2015 when Brussels drew up rules that effectively declared that products from settlements had to be labeled as such across the bloc.

Omer Korman, vice president of the Psagot Winery, which advertises itself as a “Jerusalem Mountains winery” and is based in the settlement nearest to Ramallah, declined a request for comment.

Ibrahim Milhem, spokesman of the Palestinian government, welcomed in an interview with Arab News the advisory decision of the European advocate general.

“His denunciation of Israeli violation of international law is welcomed and we can call on the world community not to engage with products made in the settlements which are illegal according to international law.”


Iran activists vow to confront Rouhani over ‘medieval’ regime

Updated 21 September 2019
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Iran activists vow to confront Rouhani over ‘medieval’ regime

  • ‘We will continue protesting until Iranian regime is held responsible for its ongoing atrocities against people of Iran’

WASHINGTON: Protesters have vowed to confront Iranian President Hassan Rouhani over the country’s “medieval regime” when he addresses the UN on Wednesday.

People started gathering last week near the UN’s headquarters in New York and their numbers will continue to grow, according to the political director for the Organization of Iranian American Communities (OIAC), which coordinates anti-Tehran activism in the US.

The OIAC’s Dr. Majid Sadeghpour said the international community should not be “fooled” by Iran's representatives. 

“No amount of economic and political concessions can moderate the behavior of this medieval regime,” he said. 

“The mullahs understand only the language of power and firmness. Maximum pressure must be applied to help the Iranian people free themselves from the yoke of the mullahs. We began protesting last week in anticipation of the opening of the UN General Assembly’s 74th Session and the appearance of Iran's officials, and we will continue protesting until the Iranian regime is held responsible for its ongoing atrocities against the people of Iran.”

Protestors were holding daily vigils to remind the world about Iran's history of terror and brutality against its people, he added, and Trump and the UN must “reject the false pretenses of moderation” from Rouhani and his representatives.

Sadeghpour said Rouhani and other Iranian officials should be held accountable for the killing of more than 120,000 Iranian civilians, including the 30,000 murdered during a gruesome nationwide purge in 1988.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has previously addressed protests against the Iranian government, is expected to join former Sen. Joseph Lieberman in speaking to protesters at next week’s rallies.

Trump had previously accused Iran of terrorism and violence, but appeared to soften his stance when he said he would meet Rouhani if he came to the opening session of the UN’s 74th General Assembly.

But a week ago, after a coordinated drone and cruise missile attack targeted Saudi Aramco oil fields in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, Trump said the US military was “locked and loaded,” suggesting the US was ready to go to war with Iran. 

Trump said he would move to block Rouhani and his team from attending the UN meeting, but he later relented.

On Friday he revealed details of additional sanctions against Iran, which he described as the toughest ever imposed.

The Treasury Department decided to take action against Iran’s central bank after US officials concluded Tehran was responsible for the drone and missile attacks on Saudi oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais.