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Canada: settlement ‘Product of Israel’ labels break law, rules federal food inspection agency

May 18, 2022 at 1:37 pm

Wine label [@LSImperialism/Twitter]

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has ruled that “Product of Israel” labels affixed to wines produced in illegal West Bank settlements violate Canadian consumer protection law. In its ruling, the agency said that the wines were not produced within the internationally-recognised borders of Israel, and their labels do not mention that they were made in an area of the West Bank occupied by the apartheid state.

The CFIA decision is the latest chapter in Dr David Kattenburg’s five-year legal battle over the labelling of wines produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The agency was urged to ensure correct re-labelling of the wines to reflect Canada’s internal policies and obligations under international law, to not recognise, give effect to or assist in maintaining Israel’s unlawful settlement enterprise.

Kattenburg filed a complaint against two wines made in the Israeli settlements of Psagot and Shiloh. He argued that because those settlements are situated on Occupied Palestinian Territory in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, it was inaccurate to label the wines produced in those settlements as “Product of Israel”.

READ: Canada wine distributor erases Palestine from label

The CFIA agreed initially, but then reversed its decision and continued to allow such labels, citing the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement’s definition of Israeli “territory” which, in violation of international law, includes areas where Israel’s custom laws apply, such as settlements in the OPT.

The reversal of the CFIA decision came after the government of Israel and pro-Israel lobby groups launched a campaign to put pressure on Justin Trudeau’s government. Within 48 hours, though, the CFIA reversed its decision, and even issued an apology.

Last month, wine from the same Psagot illegal settlement was served in the office of US Vice President Kamala Harris. The Palestinian human rights organisation, Al-Haq, exposed this in an open letter to Harris in which it was pointed out that offering guests wine produced in illegal settlements actually normalised Israel’s apartheid system and ongoing occupation of Palestine.