What’s the US saying about Palestine, today? Israel’s issues with the EU
At the U.S. State Department press briefing on Monday, director Elizabeth Trudeau was asked about Israel suspending the European Union’s (EU) role in the peace process over differentiating between labeled goods from Israel and settlements in the West Bank.
Israel believes that labeling goods from illegal settlements is not helpful to the peace process. Trudeau was asked to comment on the issue and if the U.S. would follow suit in demanding the differentiation. Trudeau stated that products produced in Israel will be labeled “Made in Israel” and if produced in a settlement in the West Bank, they will not be labeled “Made in Israel.”
Trudeau was also asked about the third Palestinian radio station to be shut down by Israeli authorities this month. Trudeau said they noticed a trend of radio stations being shut down but did not have any further comments on the closures.
QUESTION: No, I want to change topics.
MS TRUDEAU: Okay.
QUESTION: The Palestinian-Israeli —
MS TRUDEAU: Sure.
QUESTION: Okay, couple of questions. Are you aware that a third radio station was also closed by the Israelis today – the third this month? And are these stations – I think they are – I mean, according to what I knew before, they are either partially or completely subsidized by USAID. Are you aware of that?
MS TRUDEAU: Okay, so we’ve seen the reports and we’re following this closely. At this stage, because I literally just saw this as I walked out, so I’m going to be very transparent on this – we don’t have information about the specific station or the particular reasons it was closed. But we are tracking the fact that a number of radio stations have been shut down over the last few weeks. Broadly speaking, we continue to highlight the importance of balancing the fight against violence and incitement with the need to respect civil liberties as much as possible. So if we have more information, we’ll definitely be forthcoming.
QUESTION: And just to follow up, last month the Israelis arrested 900 Palestinians, bringing the total to 2,300 Palestinians since the beginning of October, but 40 percent of whom are underage and so on. A you have any comment on that? Is that a bit excessive?
MS TRUDEAU: That’s something – not knowing the details of all these cases, it’s not really something I can comment on, Said.
QUESTION: All right, let me just follow on with one more issue.
MS TRUDEAU: Of course.
QUESTION: Yesterday there was a meeting – during the meeting, the weekly meeting of the Israeli Government, the Israeli Government announced that it was suspending contact with the EU over the labeling issue, that they don’t see a role for the EU in the peace process. One, do you have any plans to sort of demand labeling of products that are made in the settlements? And second, do you feel that the Israelis have gone a bit too far by disallowing the EU from any sort of involvement in the peace process?
MS TRUDEAU: So what – I’ll start with your second question first. We’ve seen the reports. We don’t know the practical implications of this decision, so I’m going to refer you to the Israelis and the EU for information on this.
Taking a look at the broader labeling issue, what was your question again?
QUESTION: My question is: Are you – do you have any plans to follow suit with what the European Union did by demanding that they be labeled “Not made in Israel”? I mean, considering that you issued on June 30th – last June – a statement saying that – while you oppose boycott, you differentiate between the settlements and Israel at large. So —
MS TRUDEAU: Well, we understand the objective of the guidelines is to provide consumers correct information about the origin of products as required by EU law. The EU has also made clear the measures are not a boycott, and you’ve stated our position on that, and the EU has also made clear they oppose boycotts against Israel.
QUESTION: I understand, but you are not going to say – follow suit, say you cannot receive products that say “Made in Israel” when in fact it is made in the West Bank, in the settlements? You —
MS TRUDEAU: Well, we understand that these are technical, fact-based guidelines – again, speaking about the EU guidelines delineating the origin of product. As we understand it, if a product is produced in Israel, it will be labeled “Made in Israel.” If it’s made in a settlement in the West Bank, it will be – it will not be labeled “Made in Israel,” but rather that it was made in a settlement. I’m not going to get ahead of any decision we do.