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Canadian court rules against labelling settlement wines as 'Product of Israel'

Federal judge presiding over case says labelling settlement wines as Israeli is 'false, misleading and deceptive'
One wine in question is made by Shiloh Winery, based in Shiloh settlement in West Bank (AFP/File photo)

A Canadian federal court ruled against a 2017 decision to allow wines made and manufactured in illegal Israeli settlements to be sold in Canada under the label "Product of Israel".

Canada: Court hears lawsuit challenging Israeli settlement wine labels
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The court on Monday found that 'Product of Israel' labels on wines from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are "false, misleading and deceptive", according to a statement released by the court.

The ruling was in favour of David Kattenburg, a Jewish-Canadian activist who brought the complaint to the Federal Court of Canada in 2017. 

The presiding judge, Anne L Mactavish, said in her 43-page decision that it will be up to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to determine how settlement wines should be labelled. 

In mid-2017, the CFIA initially 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". 

That decision drew widespread public pressure from pro-Israel groups and the agency reversed its stance after the Canadian government directed the CFIA to a free-trade agreement with Israel, which it said showed that the labelling was correct.

 On Monday, Judge Mactavish said that labelling wines made and manufactured in illegal Israeli settlements as a product of Israel "was unreasonable", ordering the government to discontinue the practice. 

"One peaceful way in which people can express their political views is through their purchasing decisions. To be able to express their views in this manner, however, consumers have to be provided with accurate information as to the source of the products in question," Mactavish said in her ruling. 

"A decision that allows Settlement Wines to be labelled as 'Products of Israel' thus does not fall within the range of possible, acceptable outcomes which are defensible in respect of the facts and law," she added. 

Kattenburg filed the complaint to the Federal Court of Canada in October 2017. In May 2019, the court agreed to hear his lawsuit.