Israeli Product Centre Fined for the Mislabelling of Products from the Occupied Palestinian TerritoryPublished on Wed Apr 14 2021 - modified on Thu Apr 15 2021
On Friday 9 April, the Israeli Products Centre (IPC) based in Nijkerk, The Netherlands, received a fine of €2100 from the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) for mislabeling products originating from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). The ELSC previously assisted the Dutch group docP who led a campaign for the IPC to correctly label products from the oPt but also to stop the trade in settlement products altogether, when they received a letter threatening legal action for their advocacy efforts. We welcome the decision of the NVWA as an important signal showing that activists who work for the respect of international law cannot be restricted by threats of legal action aimed at silencing Palestinian advocacy.
The present fine was issued following a campaign by docP in February 2020 calling on individuals to submit a complaint to the NVWA to investigate the IPC for the possible mislabeling of products, particularly wine and cosmetics containing Dead Sea salt. The IPC, an initiative of the Dutch Christians for Israeli foundation, which aims to encourage trade with Israel, has previously promoted the sale of mislabeled settlement products. The docP campaign highlighted that, following the 2019 Psagot judgement of the Court of Justice of the EU, products within the EU common market originating from the oPt are required to be labelled as being made in an “occupied territory” and an “Israeli settlement”. Without such labelling, products may evade import taxes as products made in the illegal Israeli settlements fall outside of preferential trade agreements concluded by the EU and Israel.
Following the campaign led by docP, the IPC was investigated by Dutch authorities who acknowledged that their labelling did not meet the legal requirements. The IPC revised labels on the products from Israeli settlements in the oPt to state that the products were “coming from an Israeli village in Judea and Samaria”. DocP continued their campaign to ensure the products were correctly labelled as originating from an Israeli settlement in occupied territory in accordance with Dutch and EU law. The recent fine reflects the success of this campaign and is an important step in ensuring consumers and tax authorities can clearly identify products originating from illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.
The ELSC assisted in the present case after the IPC threatened to sue docP for defamation due to their advocacy work. With the assistance of the ELSC, docP sent a letter to the NVWA and Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD) to clarify the legal basis for the accusation of mislabelling and that the evasion of import duties was a suspicion, not a proven fact. In response, lawyers for the IPC stated that they were considering legal action, however, no further action was taken.
We welcome the decision of the NVWA as it not only ensures respect for Dutch and international law but also shows that advocates for Palestinian rights will not stand down when threatened due to their human rights work.
To read docP’s Press Release, click here
For further information on this case, click here
For further information on EU labelling requirements from products from Israeli settlements, click here