Israeli settlement products must be labeled as coming from occupied lands, top EU court rules

Any produce made in Israeli-occupied West Bank settlements must be labeled as such so that the European consumer isn’t misled by the generic ‘Made in Israel’ tag, a top EU court said in a landmark ruling.

European Union member states must now mark products originating from Israeli settlements, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Tuesday. Such labels are to help consumers make informed choices relating to some “ethical considerations,” the ruling reads.

The reasoning is that simply indicating that product is ‘Made in Israel’ – as it is usually done – could be misleading because, in fact, it comes from an occupied territory. Labeling settlement products will now state explicitly that the Jewish state “is present in the territories concerned as an occupying power and not as a sovereign entity.”

The case was pitched up to the court after an Israeli settlement-based winery challenged France’s application of a previous 2018 ECJ ruling on the labeling. That decision also enforced the use of identifying labels but wasn’t legally binding.

Israel began settling the West Bank and East Jerusalem shortly after it seized both areas during the 1967 Six-Day War in the Mideast. Today, almost 700,000 people live there, amounting to nearly 10 percent of the country’s Jewish population.The illegal occupation of the West Bank is recognized internationally; the EU, for its part, does not accept it as part of Israel.

READ MORE: ‘Illegal & an obstacle to peace’: EU slams Israel’s plan to build new settlements in East Jerusalem

Israel, in turn, doesn’t consider those areas occupied, instead referring to them as “disputed.” Back in 2012, a three-member committee headed by former Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy wrote in a comprehensive report that Israel's presence in the West Bank is not an occupation in the legal sense. The report was widely condemned outside Israel.

Israel is carrying on building Jewish settlements on occupied lands despite international condemnation. Earlier in June, Israeli officials published construction tenders to build more than 800 new units in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ramot and Pisgat Zeev.

Brussels responded to the news with a strongly-worded statement, pointing out that settlement construction and expansion in the area “continues to undermine the possibility of a viable two state solution with Jerusalem as the future capital of both.”

Also on France orders clear labeling of goods from Israeli settlements


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Brexit deal has been struck - Johnson and Juncker announce 'fair and balanced' agreement

UK and EU negotiators have finally agreed a Brexit deal and will now be put to the 27 leaders of the European Union to sign off. However critically, Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) say they oppose the agreement.

President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker announced on Wednesday morning via Twitter that a “fair and balanced agreement” had been struck between the two sides. “I recommend that #EUCO endorses this deal,” he added.

                          Where there is a will, there is a #deal - we have one!

UK PM Boris Johnson also took to social media to reveal that a “great new deal that takes back control” had been brokered and urged the UK parliament to sign it off on Saturday when MPs convene to debate the agreement.

It’s not all good news though as the DUP, Johnson’s key allies who support his minority Tory government have responded by insisting that their opposition to the deal, as it stands, “hasn’t changed.” 

In a statement published on social media earlier on Wednesday morning DUP leader Arlene Foster and deputy leader Nigel Dodds said: “As things stand, we could not support what is being suggested on customs and consent issues and there is a lack of clarity on VAT.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also criticized the new UK-EU Brexit deal, claiming that it was a “sell out” agreement that “won’t bring the country together and should be rejected.”  

“The best way to get Brexit sorted is to give the people the final say in a public vote,” he added.

Johnson needs 320 UK lawmakers to back the deal to see it pass through the House of Commons, and so with the DUP and Labour looking like they’ll reject such a proposition, it appears he could struggle to get the required numbers.

It’s gearing up to be a highly momentous day in the UK parliament on Saturday, if as expected, MPs convene to debate and vote on the deal. It would be the first Saturday sitting since 1982, when Argentina invaded the Falklands Islands, and only the third since World War II.

Also on Crawling to freedom? Boris Johnson compares Brexit to tunnel escape from ‘The Shawshank Redemption’




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Political dialogue on Cuba-EU meeting agenda

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla stressed Monday on Twitter that the Second Cuba-European Union (EU) Joint Council, which opens today in Havana, includes in its agenda the development of political, trade, investment and cooperation dialogues.

The extraterritorial effect of the Helms-Burton Act will also be addressed at the meeting, Rodriguez Parrilla stated, adding that the event, chaired by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, 'will contribute to fostering positive ties'.

We will discuss the implementation of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement, which rules the links between Brussels - the EU seat - and Havana," the head of Cuban diplomacy remarked.

Cuba has full diplomatic relations with the twenty-eight EU Member States and last year celebrated the 30th anniversary of the establishment of relations with the European Community.

Cooperation includes issues such as food security, adaptation to climate change, renewable energies and the exchange of experiences for the upgrading of the Cuban economy.

Brussels is not only an important trading partner, but also traditionally votes as a bloc in favor of the Cuban resolution against the blockade, presented at the UN.

Cuba also acknowledges the EU's rejection of the application of Title III of the Helms Burton Act, which harms European interests.

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Cuba, EU to hold second Joint Council meeting in Havana

The European Union (EU)'s top diplomat Federica Mogherini has begun an official visit to Cuba to attend the second EU-Cuba Joint Council meeting, Cuba's Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.

The meeting will kick off on Monday in Cuba's capital city Havana. The Cuban delegation would be led by Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

During the meeting, both parties will review the implementation of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement which was signed in 2016 between Cuba and the EU, according to Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The two sides will also discuss trade and investment, and the U.S. Helms-Burton Act, which was reactivated earlier this year as Washington tightens sanctions against Havana.

The first EU-Cuba Joint Council meeting was held in Brussels in 2018, when Mogherini and Rodriguez signed a cooperation agreement.

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Cuba and the EU to hold talks in Havana

On September 9, the 2nd EU-Cuba Joint Council will be held in Havana, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez recalled this Tuesday on Twitter.

According to the head of Cuban diplomacy, the country has full relations with the European Union on the basis of mutual respect, and this encounter will serve to discuss cooperation and future dialogue on sectoral policy.

Trade and investment will also be discussed, including the Helms-Burton Act (which intensifies the US economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba six decades ago) and its extraterritorial effects, he added.

The meeting will be chaired by the Cuban Foreign Minister and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union Federica Mogherini.

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EU Advocates Respect for Indigenous Cultures

The European External Action Service advocated this Friday respect for cultural, religious and linguistic diversity on the occasion of the International Day of the World''s Indigenous People.

In a statement, the high representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, highlighted the contributions of these communities and expressed the will of the EU bloc to help revitalize, foster and transmit their oral traditions and art.

Out of the 7,000 languages spoken in the world, 5,000 are indigenous. The majority of the 2,680 languages threatened are also indigenous. This is a direct consequence of the continued violation of the right of these communities to self-determination, to live on their lands and to own their resources, she said.

Mogherini also indicated that these populations are disproportionately affected by poverty, climate change and violence, and reiterated the EU's commitment to the struggle to preserve indigenous languages and cultures.

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EU Leaders Convene for Emergency Talks on Migration

Brussels, July 16 (Prensa Latina) The European Union (EU) Ministers of Foreign Affairs will have an ''emergency'' meeting in Helsinki on Wednesday in an attempt to bridge their deep divisions over migrant rescue missions in the Mediterranean.

Such a meeting, an initiative of France and Germany supported by Finland - in charge of the pro tempore chairmanship of the EU -, hopes to lay the foundations of a 'coalition' of nations willing to share migrants rescued, without having to engage in harsh negotiations on a case-by-case basis.

In the letter of invitation to their European counterparts, the Finnish Minister of the Interior, Maria Ohisalo, assured that 'the situation in the Mediterranean Sea requires our immediate involvement'.

It is aimed at setting up 'strong provisions for what follows the search and rescue operations, in order to guarantee a rapid response after the landing,' according to the statement.

The Finnish official pointed out that such treaties 'must be based on a shared responsibility involving a wide-large number' of nations.

The figures of migrants' arrivals at the European coasts were drastically reduced since the arrival of over a million migrants in 2015, but the division between the European governments did not diminished, while the Mediterranean countries of the EU are asking for more support and solidarity.

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Tehran rejects Macron’s call for wider intl talks beyond nuclear deal – ministry

Iran rejected French calls for wider international talks over its nuclear and military ambitions, according to a state TV report.

President Emmanuel Macron had said the previous day that Paris and Washington both wanted to stop Tehran getting nuclear arms and new talks should focus on curbing its ballistic missiles program.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday it would not hold any discussions beyond the 2015 pact which US President Donald Trump abandoned last year. “Talking about issues beyond the deal… will lead to further mistrust among the remaining signatories of the deal,” Reuters quoted Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi as saying.

“The Europeans have so far failed to fulfill their commitments under the deal and… to protect Iran’s interests after America’s illegal withdrawal,” Mousavi added.

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