Israeli Diplomat Cancels Meetings in Belgium After Settlement Labeling Decision
Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Idan Roll, on Wednesday canceled the day’s scheduled meetings with Belgian officials after Brussels announced that it would label products made in West Bank settlements as such. Ironically, Roll was in Belgium to improve relations between the two countries, and had planned to meet with the Belgian Foreign Ministry and parliament. Belgium’s foreign office told the Associated Press that it will increase controls on goods coming from Israeli settlements in the West Bank; it defended the labeling decision, saying that it is applying international and European law, which distinguishes between Israel and the West Bank, which it calls Palestinian territories. It also noted that it frequently has trouble determining what products do come from Jewish settlements, and that sometimes the labels can be “misleading to the consumer.” The Belgian government pointed out that the settlement goods can still be sold in the country, but that they have to be labeled and they will not qualify for preferential tariffs for Israeli products. Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh in a tweet praised Belgium for its decision.