November 10, 2015

Sens. Gillibrand and Cruz Lead Bipartisan Letter to the EU Opposing New Guidelines For Israeli Product Labeling

Proposed EU policy could promote a de facto boycott of Israel

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Ted Cruz (R-T.X.) today sent a bipartisan letter signed by 36 senators to Federica Mogherini, vice president of the European Commission. The letter expresses concern over reports that the European Union (EU) intends to move forward with new guidelines this week to label certain products made by Israeli companies imported into the EU.

“As allies, elected representatives of the American people, and strong supporters of Israel, we urge you not to implement this labeling policy, which appears intended to discourage Europeans from purchasing these products and promote a de facto boycott of Israel, a key ally and the only true democracy in the Middle East,” the letter states. “We believe strongly that these efforts are unwarranted, dangerous, and damaging to the prospects of a negotiated solution of [the Israeli-Palestinian] conflict.”

Full text of the letter is available here and below:

 

November 9, 2015

 

Ms. Federica Mogherini

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/

Vice-President of the European Commission (HRVP)

Delegation of the European Union to the United States

Suite 800

2175 K Street NW

Washington, DC 20037

 

Dear High Representative Mogherini,

 

We write to express our concern over reports that the European Union (EU) intends to move forward with new guidelines to label certain products made by Israeli companies imported into the EU. In April, more than half of the foreign ministers of EU member states sent a letter encouraging you to proceed with this policy, and members of the EU Parliament subsequently voted to endorse this initiative in September.  As allies, elected representatives of the American people, and strong supporters of Israel, we urge you not to implement this labeling policy, which appears intended to discourage Europeans from purchasing these products and promote a de-facto boycott of Israel, a key ally and the only true democracy in the Middle East.  We believe strongly that these efforts are unwarranted, dangerous, and damaging to the prospects of a negotiated solution of this conflict.

 

We are also deeply concerned that enacting this policy would lead to the broader boycott of Israel. For decades, it has been the policy of the United States to oppose economic boycotts by other countries against Israel. In the 1970s, the United States Congress enacted legislation making it illegal for a U.S. company to comply with the Arab League boycott of Israel. This year, Congress has passed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation requiring the United States to discourage Europe from enacting any politically motivated policies that would boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel when negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.  Differentiating between products made by Israeli companies creates a troubling precedent that could eventually lead to the type of activities that the TPA provisions aim to address.

 

At a time of significant instability in the region, it is deeply concerning to us that the EU is considering a proposal intended to impose more diplomatic and economic pressure on Israel. The proposed labeling guidelines play into the narrative of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement, which is an effort to delegitimize Israel rather than promote a resolution of outstanding issues between Israel and the Palestinians. Far from advancing such a resolution, the proposed labeling would prejudge the outcome of future negotiations.

 

We call upon you not to adopt the proposed labeling guidelines. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

 

Sincerely,

 

Ted Cruz (R-Texas)

Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

 

Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.)

Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)

Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)

Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)

Cory Booker (D-N.J.)

John Boozman (R-Ark.)

Richard Burr (R-N.C.)

Ben Cardin (R-Md.)

Robert Casey (D-Pa.)

Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)

Steve Daines (R-Mont.)

Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)

Cory Gardner (R-Colo.)

Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)

Dean Heller (R-Nev.)

James Inhofe (R-Okla.)

Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)

Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)

James Lankford (R-Okla.)

Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)

Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)

Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

Gary Peters (D-Mich.)

Rob Portman (R-Ohio)

Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

Ben Sasse (R-Neb.)

Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)

Tim Scott (R-S.C.)

Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska)

Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)

Pat Toomey (R-Penn.)

Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)

Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)