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Israel Seeks Germany Aid in West Bank Labeling Feud

A senior Israeli offical called on Germany on Thursday to urge other European countries to oppose EU plans to require products from Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories to be so labeled.

“Obviously, there is no question of Germany following this disastrous move,” Israeli Knesset speaker Yuli Yoel Edelstein told Reuters after a forum on 50 years of German-Israeli friendship at a German foundation on Thursday.

“But I even think that Germany could do more with its influence in Europe to persuade the others that this is not a wise step.”

Relations with Israel are highly sensitive in Germany in the wake of the Nazi Holocaust, in which more than six million Jews were killed.

“It is very likely that this measure will be exploited for campaigns that aim to direct hostility towards Israel,” said Juergen Hardt, foreign affairs spokesman of Merkel’s Christian Democrats in parliament, in an email to Reuters on Thursday.

Hungary and Greece have also announced they will not implement the labeling measures.

A spokesman for the European Commission in Brussels on Thursday said it expects member states to comply with the guidelines.

Opponents of the labeling initiative fear it will boost the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that attempts to increase economic and political pressure on Israel.

Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2008 declared Israel’s security to be a core state value and vowed to always stand by its side.

But neither Germany nor the EU recognize settlements on land occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war to be part of Israeli territory.

Europe’s biggest department store, KaDeWe in Berlin, took products it considered to fall under the new EU guidelines off its shelves in the middle of November.

That prompted outrage on the Israeli side.

“This department store was owned by Jews; the Nazis took it over,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting on November 22.

The department store has since apologized and reversed its decision.

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