Baku, November 12, AZERTAC
The European Union's decision Wednesday to start labeling Israeli products made in the West Bank delivered a resounding show of international disapproval over Israel's expansion of Jewish settlements and raised the pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to renew peace efforts with the Palestinians, according to USNEWS.
Israel condemned the measure as unfair and discriminatory, but it appeared helpless to stop its growing isolation over the settlement issue and its treatment of Palestinians. Relations with the EU in particular have deteriorated in recent years due to disputes over the settlements.
"The EU decision is hypocritical and constitutes a double standard," Netanyahu said, adding that Israel had been unfairly singled out.
Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and began settling both areas shortly afterward. The Palestinians claim both areas as parts of a future state, a position that has global support.
The international community opposes settlement construction, saying their continued growth undermines establishing an independent Palestine alongside Israel. Today, nearly 600,000 Israelis live in the two areas, almost 10 percent of the country's Jewish population.
Israel's centrist and dovish opposition also supports the idea of a Palestinian state, saying a separation is the only way to preserve Israel's Jewish majority. While Netanyahu has endorsed this "two-state solution," critics say he has done little to promote it.