Creating new perspectives since 2009

Canada court hears lawsuit challenging Israel settlement wine labels

May 22, 2019 at 12:26 pm

Wine bottles ready to be sold in Tel Aviv [David Silverman/Getty Images]

A Canadian court is hearing a lawsuit against a decision to allow wines made and manufactured in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank to be labelled “Product of Israel”.

According to a report in Middle East Eye, David Kattenburg, a Jewish-Canadian activist based in Winnipeg, has applied to the Federal Court of Canada for an order “declaring unlawful” the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) directive.

In 2017, the CFIA “ordered liquor stores across the province of Ontario to de-shelve two Israeli settlement wines that were being sold with the label ‘Product of Israel’”, before promptly reversing its stance after “widespread public pressure from pro-Israel groups in Canada”.

“What [the CFIA’s decision] amounts to is an acknowledgement and endorsement of Israel’s de facto annexation of the settlements,” Kattenburg told Middle East Eye earlier this month.

READ: Almost 20,000 new settlement housing unit in 10 years under Netanyahu

After receiving a complaint filed by Kattenburg, the CFIA initially agreed that the wines should be taken off the shelves, on the basis that they were made in Psagot and Shiloh settlements. Twenty-four hours later, the body had “changed its mind”.

“That’s what counts the most: Getting Canada to stand by Israel and allow Israel to label its settlement products [as] products of Israel,” he told Middle East Eye.

The Canadian government officially does not recognise “permanent Israeli control” over the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, or the Syrian Golan Heights, and describes settlements as “a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace”.

“Allowing settlement wines to be imported into Canada tariff free – extending tariff privileges to settlement wines – constitutes endorsement and acknowledgement and aid and support for Israel’s settlement enterprise, which is illegal,” Kattenburg said.

READ: Israel implemented 53 settlement projects in the West Bank during April