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Canada U-turn on Israel wine ban

Wine from the Occupied Territories labelled 'Product of Israel' in accordance with free trade agreement, authorities decide

    Wine produced in the Occupied Territories and labelled ‘Product of Israel’ can again be sold in Ontario, Canada, after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency overturned a ban.  
    The Liquor Control Board of Ontario had ordered stores to remove wine produced by the Psagot and Shiloh wineries, located in settlements outside Ramallah.

    The board had written to retailers, requesting that the “discontinue any importations or sales of products labelled as ‘Product of Israel’ from the wineries named above (or others located in the same regions) until further notice.”

    It said labels identifying them as Israeli contravened Canada’s policy on the occupied territories.

    However, the decision was overturned on Thursday by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which said in a statement that it “regrets the outcome of the wine-labelling assessment” and that it had not fully considered the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA). It conceded that the wines adhere to the agreement and could be sold as currently labelled.

    The CIFTA agreement, which came into effect in 1997, seeks to eliminate trade barriers and tariffs as well as increasing investments between Israel and Canada.

    David J Cape, director of the Canada-based Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, welcomed the move.

    He said: “We commend the government of Canada for quickly revoking this directive, which is at odds with Canada’s policy.

    “Like many in our community, we were alarmed that this decision was taken. Such guidelines undermine the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement that has benefited Canadians for 20 years. We thank the government of Canada for its rapid action in resolving this matter, and for reaffirming the strength of the Canada-Israel relationship.”

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