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EU ban on Israeli settlement dairy 'destructive' to Palestinian relations

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By Mark Astley+

18-Aug-2014
Last updated on 18-Aug-2014 at 17:42 GMT

EU ban on dairy from Israeli settlements 'destructive'

A European Union (EU) ban on dairy products from Israeli settlements it deems illegal could have a "destructive" impact on Israeli-Palestinian relations, the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has claimed.

From September 1 2014, in line with fresh EU legislation, exports of dairy and poultry products sourced from Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank, will not be permitted entry into the EU.

The trade restrictions stem from a February 2014 amendment to EU Regulation No 166/2014 designed to affirm EU's stance that it does not recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, which it has occupied since 1967.

The amended regulation specifies that the territorial coverage of the veterinary certificates necessary for exporting to the EU is limited to the territory of the State of Israel.

"Therefore, certification by the Israeli Veterinary Services is recognized only if the products come from territories within pre-1967 borders," said the EC Directorate General for Health and Consumers (DG SANCO) in a statement.

"The Commission will ensure enforcement of such provisions in cooperation with the Israeli authorities," it said.

In line with the rule change, Israel has reportedly been asked to put in place a system to distinguish the origins of dairy and poultry products.

"Destructive" to relations 

The EU crackdown is, however, not likely to heavily impact dairies in the disputed areas, says the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

According to reports from Israel, products sourced from East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank are largely kosher and will likely be channeled back into the local market.

Speaking with DairyReporter.com, Amnon Lieberman, media advisor to Yair Shamir, Israeli Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, acknowledged that said that the economic impact of the new legislation "would be minor."

Lieberman added, however, that the approaching EU rule change will be "destructive to efforts to build trust between Palestinians and Israelis."

“We still hope that we can successfully convince the EU to cancel this new legislation because it will be destructive to Israeli and Palestinian relations and will affect Palestinians working for these enterprises.”

EU talks

With just two weeks until the ban comes into power, a coalition of Israeli government departments are in talks with the EU on the issue, said Lieberman.

“We are now in the middle of dialogue with the European Union on a few issues,” he said. “This is one of them.”

“We truly believe our arguments will be heard.”

“The European Union is a still a major trading partner with us. Between partners and friends there are always issues," said Lieberman.

DairyReporter.com approached the Israeli Dairy Board for comment on the issue, but was referred back to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

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