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'EU states must label Israeli settlement products'

EU states must label Israeli settlement products

Brussels: The European Union's top court ruled Tuesday that EU countries must oblige retailers to identify products made in Israeli settlements with special labels, in a ruling likely to spark anger in Israel.

The European Court of Justice said in a statement that "foodstuffs originating in the territories occupied by the State of Israel must bear the indication of their territory of origin."

The Luxembourg-based court said that when products come from an Israeli settlement, their labeling must provide an "indication of that provenance." The EU has consistently spoken out against settlement expansion, saying it undermines the hopes for a two-state solution by gobbling up lands claimed by the Palestinians. Israel says the labeling is unfair and discriminatory. It claims that other countries involved in territorial disputes are not similarly sanctioned.

The EU wants any produce made in the settlements to be easily identifiable to shoppers and insists that they should not carry the generic "Made in Israel" tag. Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and began settling both areas shortly afterward. The Palestinians claim both areas as parts of a future state, a position that has global support.

The international community opposes settlement construction, saying their continued growth undermines the establishment of an independent Palestine alongside Israel. Today, nearly 700,000 Israelis live in the two areas, almost 10 percent of the country's Jewish population. Agencies

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