European officials have informed Israel that the EU has issued a ruling banning the import of poultry and eggs from Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem.
Even though EU guidelines restricting business and trade with “territories occupied by Israel since June 1967″(pdf) have been in effect since January, this represents an escalation of enforcement. AFP reported an EU official, on confirming the ban, noted the ruling was issued “in the spirit” of these guidelines.
The European officials told Israel’s Agriculture Ministry their veterinary supervision would no longer be recognized in occupied Palestinian territory, therefore eggs and poultry from the settlements wouldn’t meet public health regulations required for import to the 28-nation bloc.
Haaretz reported Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir was “surprised by the notification”.
According to the report, Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir was surprised by the notification and assured Israeli veterinary supervision beyond the 1967 borders is no different than within. It also notes that only 5 percent of the poultry produced by Israel originates in the settlements.
Jerusalem and Brussels have been in contact in recent weeks to try and resolve the issue, and an Israeli official is quoted by Walla as saying it is one of the “strangest diplomatic disputes” he has encountered.
We need to see much more action like this. It’s worth republishing Omar Barghouti’s response to the EU’s guideline’s last summer:
Given the EU’s profound complicity at all levels in maintaining Israel’s regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid, these guidelines constitute a bare minimal step in the right direction that may open the door to more effective boycotts against Israel in the future. We welcome them, but we also must soberly remind the European establishment that it is obliged, morally and legally, to do much more on the ground to atone for its role in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.