Middle East Monitor / June 13, 2022
Israel has issued a warning to Norway following the Scandinavian country’s decision to mandate an end to the misleading labelling of products from illegal settlements.
Oslo moved to align its policy with a 2019 EU court ruling by requiring products from illegal Israeli settlements to be marked correctly and thus bring labels in line with international law. The EU’s top court ruled that member states must identify products made in exclusively Jewish settlements on their labels, following advice from the European Commission in 2015.
Announcing the new policy on Friday, Norway’s social democrat government said that it was not good enough to label products originating from illegally occupied territories as “Israeli”. The measure mainly concerns wine, olive oil, fruits and vegetables, and will apply to products from the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and occupied areas of the Syrian Golan Heights, explained the foreign ministry in Oslo.
“Foodstuffs originating in areas occupied by Israel must be marked with the area from which the product comes, and that it comes from a Jewish settlement if that is the case,” explained the ministry, as cited by The Times of Israel.
Norway also said that it recognizes Israeli territory as that under Israeli control prior to 1967, and considers Israeli settlements in the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as contrary to international law. The principle behind its latest decision, it added, is that consumers should not be deceived by misleading labelling on the origin of products.
Norway’s Foreign Minister, Anniken Huitfeldt, stressed that the new policy was not a boycott of Israel and that the Scandinavian country still has good relations with the apartheid state. Tel Aviv, however, has warned that the move will harm bilateral relations between the countries.
“This decision will not contribute to the advancement of Israeli-Palestinian ties [sic] and will adversely affect bilateral relations between Israel and Norway, as well as Norway’s relevance to promoting relations between Israel and the Palestinians,” said Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
Although Israel completed its full takeover of Palestine in 1967, the international community did not recognize its occupation and illegal annexation of occupied East Jerusalem. A key principal of international law is the prohibition of the acquisition of territory through the use of force. Israel is not only in daily violation of this principal, but it has also transferred nearly a million of its Jewish citizens to the occupied Palestinian territory in breach of international law.
Over recent years a number of countries have undermined the above legal principal in order to preserve their unwavering support for Israel. Following the 2019 EU court ruling, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that Israel’s West Bank settlements were “not per se inconsistent with international law.”