Israel weighs suing EU over ‘settlement’ labeling

November 19, 2015  

Israel is weighing legal action with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the European Union’s decision to label Jewish goods produced in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights. 

An official told Haaretz that Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan are both angling to sue the EU despite objections from foreign and economic ministry officials. 

A few days after the controversial new EU guidelines were released, Erdan reportedly held a debate discussing Israel’s potential responses to the move. 

He broached the idea of filing a lawsuit against the EU, arguing that labeling goods is a breach of WTO’s principles. Shaked backed the move and the two have met in the past few days to discuss advancing the suit. 

According to the official, Erdan and Shaked have also appealed to several international law firms specializing in trade law for an opinion on the lawsuit’s chances of success. 

A Justice Ministry official said Deputy Attorney General Roy Shondorf believes suing the EU could be beneficial, but foreign and economy ministry officials have expressed concern over the issue. 

The officials, Haaretz reports, say suing the European Union with WTO could potentially cause further harm, particularly if Arab states lead a counter move against Israel to have the so-called “settlement” products boycotted, and not merely labeled. 

“This is a dangerous procedure that would lead to an unnecessary politicization of Israel in the WTO,” asserted a senior Foreign Ministry official dealing with the issue. “You know how you enter such a move but not how you come out of it.”

In the meantime, several prominent law professors have also called on Israel to take legal action against the EU, most notably Avi Bell from Bar-Ilan University and Eugene Kontorovich of Northwestern University.

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