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Israel Fears Economic Squeeze by Europe Ahead

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Israel Fears Economic Squeeze by Europe Ahead

EU Measures Directed at Jewish Settlements Had Been on Hold During Talks With Palestinians

by Naftali BenDavid, WSJ, May 6, 2014

“BRUSSELS—As Middle East peace talks founder, Israeli leaders are bracing for theEuropean Union to resume its effort to put an economic squeeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank and other disputed territories that the EU considers illegal.

The EU had been working on a guideline that would prevent goods manufactured in settlements from carrying a “Made in Israel” label. The 28-member bloc also had been drafting a list of potential legal risks for European companies doing business in the territories—a list that might cause some to rethink their operations.

Such measures were effectively put on hold when Israeli and Palestinian negotiators began talks last summer, though EU officials say work on them has continued. With the talks now suspended, and the April 29 deadline for extending them past, Israeli officials fear the EU will pick up where it left off.

“We’re already hearing about such initiatives, and we understand that it is in the drawer and waiting for someone to pull it out,” David Walzer, the Israeli ambassador to the EU, said in an interview. “Am I worried? Yes. Do I think it’s something they will definitely do? I hope not.”….

…the EU’s 28 members vary in degree of support. Some countries, like Germany, Netherlands and the Czech Republic, are strong defenders of Israel, while others, such as Sweden, Denmark and Ireland, can be relatively more critical. That reflects European history as well as differences in public opinion.”

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