Does the US oppose the EU settlement labeling guidelines?

State Department recently refused to state its position on the matter.

November 12, 2015 12:22
2 minute read.

State Department can't decide if labeling products is boycotting

State Department can't decide if labeling products is boycotting

Even after the meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama and the repeated declarations that a new page has been turned in US-Israeli relations, the United States has not said that it opposes the newly approved EU settlement guidelines.  

Further, US Treasury policy papers dealing with imports into the US have stated that "every product made in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip should not bear the label Made in Israel."

A US official said recently that there was no special labeling policy for settlements at the current time.

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Last June, it was reported that the Israeli company SodaStream would have to label all its products as made in the West Bank. The decision was taken reportedly as a result of pressure by human rights activists in the US.  

Only after the SodaStream company was moved to the city of Rahat in the Negev was the labeling threat removed. 

Asked about the the issue of labeling on Wednesday, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said that this was not the US approach towards the settlements. 

"We oppose building in the settlements, but we have our own ways to express this position," Shapiro told Israel Radio. 

The US State Department refused to say that they opposed the settlement labeling at a recent press briefing.

The US is opposed to boycotts against and efforts to delegitimize Israel, but also does not support settlement activity, which the US believes is illegitimate and harmful to the peace process, Deputy State Department Spokesperson Mark Toner said.

The deputy spokesperson added that the settlements were not legitimate and harm peace and security in the long run. 

“Israel continues to expand settlement activity. It should not come as a surprise that some in the international community seek to limit commercial ties to the settlements,” he said.

“This underscores the urgent need for Israel to change its policies with regard to settlements,” he said.

But in response to a journalist's question, Toner said that the EU labeling policy could be perceived as a step on the way to a boycott.

A US official responded this report: Longstanding US guidelines on country of origin product marking require that products produced in the West Bank be marked as products of the West Bank, and products of Israel be marked as such.  To be clear, US guidelines do not differentiate between products produced in settlements or anywhere else in the West Bank, a US official said.

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