An Israeli legal organization has revealed that the United States has recently changed its guidelines and has stopped labeling Israeli products made in Judea and Samaria as “made in Israel” and has begun to label them as “made in the West Bank.” Some members of the US Congress are now considering holding a formal hearing with the State Department and Secretary of State John Kerry.
“The Administration’s January “reissuance” of the labeling guidelines was confusing and alarming as the Administration seemed to be foreshadowing applying them to disputed territory, in a way similar to the European Union guidelines,” U.S. Congressman Doug Lamborn told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).
Congressman Lamborn released this statement concerning H.R. 4555: “I am pleased to stand with Israel today by introducing the Non-Discrimination of Israel in Labeling Act. This bill secures Israel’s right to label its products, including in the settlements, which protects both Palestinian and Israeli interests and jobs.”
On January 23rd, the Obama Administration bucked historical precedent concerning labeling guidelines for goods manufactured in the West Bank and Gaza. The announcement from the Obama Administration that inappropriate labeling of products will be subject to “enforcement actions” is greatly concerning and represents an alarming shift in the Obama Administration’s stance towards Israel. Further, the Obama Administration’s stance goes against the original intent of the labeling guidelines, which were only meant to ensure that the Palestinian administered areas, after the Oslo Accords, govern their own import/export procedures and compliance. Therefore, this legislation is needed to clarify the labeling guidelines, as they were never intended to apply to Israeli controlled territory within the West Bank or Gaza, and were subject to final status negotiations.
“It seems to me that a labeling requirement drafted 20 years ago to promote Palestinian goods under entirely different circumstances but never enforced is now being dusted off and resurrected to coerce Israel out of spite,” said Lamborn. “The world is a strange and dangerous place. Yet, this administration wants to seemingly force Israel to make unilateral and dangerous concessions.” See Congressman Lamborn’s Op-Ed, “An Open Letter to Secretary Lew”, the algemeiner, February 8, 2016.
This action was designed to require Israel to prove something to the world. Israel is a respected and productive member of the community of nations and has nothing to prove.
Representative McSally stated, “Israel is one of our strongest allies and the only real democracy in the Middle East. Instead of undermining Israel, we need to show we stand with them.”
“I appreciate Congressman Lamborn’s leadership in introducing the Non-Discrimination of Israel in Labeling Act in order to ensure that Israeli products do not face undue discrimination in our marketplaces”, stated Representative DeSantis.
Congressman Lamborn expressed his gratitude for the support and commitment of other Members of the U.S. House of Representatives on this important legislation. “I am honored to work with many Members in opposing this effort to delegitimize the nation of Israel.”
Original co-sponsors to the Non-Discrimination of Israel in Labeling Act, H.R. 4555 included U.S. Representatives Martha McSally (AZ-02), Ron DeSantis (FL-06), Trent Franks (AZ-08), Michael Fitzpatrick (PA-08), David Rouzer (NC-07), Ryan Costello (PA-06), Lee Zeldin (NY-01), Diane Black (TN-06), Dennis Ross (FL-15), Mark Walker (NC-06), and Paul Cook (CA-08).