Foreign minister Frans Timmermans has reconfirmed support for plans to stop labelling products from the Occupied Territories as ‘made in Israel’, Nos television reports.
Answering questions from opposition MPs on Tuesday, Timmermans stressed his position is based on a decision taken by European ministers last May.
Individual countries have the right to decide how to implement the change, Nos said. It is not a question of a boycott but proper consumer information, Timmermans told MPs. ‘The Occupied Territories are not in Israel,’ he reiterated.
The fundamentalist Christian party SGP has described the decision as ‘Israel-bashing, which will do nothing to help the peace process’ while the anti-Islam PVV said it is a stab in the back for Israel.
Asked by the ruling VVD if the issue could not be left up to the market, Timmermans said he wanted to discuss the issue with both consumers and producers. ‘But you cannot label a product as coming from Israel if that is not the case,’ he said.
The issue has provoked an angry reaction in Israel and surprised commentators who are used to the Netherlands’ strong support for Israel.
In 2011, Holland exported goods to the value of €1 billion to Israel and imported €2.1 billion worth of Israeli goods, making the Netherlands Israel’s second largest export destination in Europe, the European Jewish Press said.
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