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Mike Knowles



Israel under fire over West Bank label

Supermarkets could face prosecution over allegedly inaccurate labelling of fruit exported from occupied territories

Israel under fire over West Bank label

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Lawyers are reportedly pushing for fruit and other goods exported from Israeli settelements in the Palestinian territotries to be banned from using the 'West Bank' label.

As reported in today's edition of UK newspaper The Guardian, supermarkets could be at risk of prosecution if the products are deemed to have been wrongly labelled.

New, stricter EU rules on product labelling are due to be introduced in the next few weeks. Under UK law, it is already illegal to label products in a way which would be "likely to mislead" consumers, but the new rules will require the correct country of origin to be specified.

"The use of the expression 'West Bank' may in many cases fail to give the consumer the full picture," Kieron Beal, a barrister from Matrix Chambers, told The Guardian, adding that in other cases, "where goods have come from the occupied Palestinian Territories they should not be labelled as having their place of origin as Israel".

In a separate issue, the lawyers argue that the settlements are also wrongly benefiting from preferential trade agreements with Israel, which are meant only for goods from inside its pre-1967 borders.

"It is a breach of the agreement for settlement goods to be imported as Israeli products getting preferential tariffs," said Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford. "The labelling of herbs sold as 'West Bank' `for example` seems to me such an abuse. It is up to UK customs authorities to enforce the origin rules."

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