Anti-Israel BDS activists in France. (CC BY-SA, Odemirense/Wikimedia)

France has suspended its anti-Israel labeling requirement pending a decision by the European Court of Justice on the issue.

French authorities announced earlier this month the suspension of a discriminatory and politicized labeling requirement imposed on Israeli products, pending a decision by the European Court of Justice.

The French requirement mandated that Israeli products from Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights be labeled with the designation “colonies israéliennes” (“Israeli colonies”).

The requirement was enacted in 2015 after France and 15 other European Union (EU) countries urged the bloc to clearly label products sold in member counties which originated in these Israeli areas, which they claim are “occupied.” However, goods from those areas not produced by Israelis may continue to say “product of Palestine.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry blasted the prejudicial double standard, saying “it is puzzling and disturbing that France adopts a double standard in relation to Israel, while ignoring 200 territorial conflicts currently taking place around the world.”

The latest development in this saga, the suspension of the French labeling requirement, was prompted by a lawsuit commenced by The Lawfare Project in 2017 against the French Minister for Economic Affairs and Finance.

The Lawfare Project’s initial action was brought before the Conseil d’État (Council of State, France’s highest court) on behalf of Psâgot Winery LTD, an Israeli vineyard whose European distributors are subject to the labeling rules. Psâgot is being represented by revered law firm Cabinet Briard.

In May, the Conseil d’État referred two questions, central to the landmark case, to the European Court of Justice for its opinion, expected to be issued in the end of 2019.

Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of The Lawfare Project, stated, “We are glad the French government will not be applying its discriminatory and unlawful policies, pending the outcome of the case.”

She noted, however, “We should not have reached this point in the first place, where an Israeli company must rely on European courts to enforce basic economic rights. The entire issue could easily have been rendered moot had the French government announced that the policy—which clearly contradicts EU and French trade laws—would be suspended indefinitely.”