The Czech parliament called on the government to ignore the EU’s labelling guidelines for Israeli products from the West Bank and Golan Heights issued by the EU Commission in November, the European Jewish Press reports.
The Czech Assembly said in a resolution, supported by all government and opposition parties except for the Communists, that the guidelines were “motivated by a political positioning versus the State of Israel.”
The vote reflected a long and strong trade and diplomatic relationship between Israel and the Czech Republic.
“It is necessary to reject these attempts that try to discriminate against the only democracy in the Middle East,” Czech Culture Minister Daniel Hermann said.
The Czech Foreign Ministry said in a brief statement sent to Reuters that the country respects its EU commitments but also that it considers Israel as a strategic partner and is keen on developing economic relations with the country.
Some EU countries, including Hungary and Greece, have recently stated their opposition to the labeling of Israeli settlement products.
Israel considers the EU’s labeling decision ‘’politically motivated’’ as it discriminates against the products of one country, Israel, while there are some 200 territorial disputes around the world, such as in Western Sahara and northern Cyprus, for which the EU didn’t issue labels.
Following the EU announcement, which provoked the ire of Israel, Jerusalem told EU’s ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen that it was suspending its diplomatic dialogue for a number of weeks.
Foreign Ministry officials later clarified this decision pertained mostly to Palestinian and human rights related issues, but that the dialogue would continue on other topics.
But Israeli Prime Minister and acting Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went even further when he instructed two weeks ago the foreign ministry to suspend contacts with the EU on issues related to the Middle East peace process ‘’until completion of a reassessment of the involvovement of EU bodies in everything that is connected to the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.’’
Speaking to reporters after the December 14 Foreign Affairs Council, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said: ‘’Let me add two short points that were not part of the discussion or of the agenda but were still debated among us. One is related to the Middle East Peace Process, especially after the adoption of the technical guidelines on indication of origin.
“We had an exchange of views in this respect with the ministers and we commonly decided that it was important also for me to pass this message publicly that the Council and the European Union stay united on these technical guidelines on indication of origin which is in no way a boycott and should in no way be interpreted as one.’’
She said that the EU Council of Foreign Ministers was ‘’completely united in our continued engagement in the Middle East Peace Process and in broader bilateral relations with Israel. There is full unity and solidarity among member states and among European institutions on that.’’