Deputy Minister Michael Oren appeared to call on Israelis to boycott French products in retaliation for Paris’s decision to label West Bank goods, a move that drew the ire of the French ambassador.
“France is labeling Israeli products from Judea, Samaria, and the Golan. Israelis should think twice before buying French products,” Oren tweeted late Sunday night.
He was referring to France’s recent decision to implement European Union guidelines, issued November 2015, that require manufacturers to clearly label certain Israeli-made goods produced outside the pre-1967 lines.
On Monday morning, France’s ambassador-designate to Israel, Helene LeGal, replied to Oren’s tweet, asking him whether he was “calling for boycotting French products when in France boycotting Israel is punished by law.”
@DrMichaelOren so you are calling for boycotting French products when in France boycotting Israel is punished by law?
— helene le gal (@HeleneLeGal) November 28, 2016
The EU delegation to Israel also responded to Oren’s tweet, saying that the labeling guidelines were merely an “application of EU consumer information regulations.”
Oren, a deputy minister for diplomacy in the Prime Minister’s Office, told The Monday that he was not calling for a boycott of French products but merely wanted Israeli consumers “to be aware that France is moving to label Jewish products from Judea, Samaria, and the Golan.”
On Thursday, the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem condemned the French decision to implement the EU Commission’s directives on labeling Israeli products produced over the Green Line.
“It regrets that France, which actually has a law against boycotts, is advancing measures that can be interpreted as encouraging radical elements and the movement to boycott Israel,” a statement read. “Moreover, it is unfathomable and even disturbing that France has chosen to apply a double standard with regards to Israel by ignoring the other 200 territorial disputes around the world, including those right on France’s own doorstep.”
According to Israeli officials, Paris decided to go ahead with the labeling issue as “revenge” for Israel’s vociferous objection to an international peace conference the government of President Francois Hollande plans to hold next month.
Like most Israeli politicians, Oren, a historian-turned-diplomat-turned-lawmaker, has been a sharp critic of the EU’s labeling guidelines, and even called them anti-Semitic.
“I call on Israeli merchants to label products made in Europe,” he said last year, posing for photographs in a Jerusalem supermarket. “The Israeli public does not have to buy products from countries that encourage anti-Semitism and prejudice.”