Obama administration reissues labeling order on West Bank products

State Department: reissuance of guidance in no way represents a boycott or anything like that.

January 30, 2016 09:41
2 minute read.
The South Lawn of the White House

The South Lawn of the White House. (photo credit: REUTERS)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


WASHINGTON - The US customs agency reiterated its policy that goods from the West Bank must be labeled as such.

The move signals the Obama administration’s continued resistance to folding recognition of settlement products into goods made within Israel’s pre-1967 borders.

The Jan. 23 statement by the US Customs and Border Protection says the reiteration “is to provide guidance to the trade community regarding the country of origin marking requirements for goods that are manufactured in the West Bank.”

Mark Toner, the State Department spokesman, said Thursday that the customs agency reissued the statement on policy because of a number of recent complaints that products from the West Bank are mislabeled. Such reminders are rare.

The statement quoted from a 1997 decision by the Treasury Department that ruled “goods produced in the West Bank or Gaza Strip shall be marked as originating from ‘’West Bank,’ ‘Gaza,’ ‘Gaza Strip,’ ‘West Bank/Gaza,’ ‘West Bank/Gaza Strip,’ ‘West Bank and Gaza,’ or ‘West Bank and Gaza Strip.’

“It is not acceptable to mark the aforementioned goods with the words ‘Israel,’ ‘Made in Israel,’ ‘Occupied Territories-Israel,’ or any variation thereof,” the 1997 decision adds, and notes the penalties for failing to comply.

In the daily media briefing, Toner said, “There’s nothing new, this is simply a reissuance of guidance. All this simply is a restatement of requirements regarding settlements; we don’t differentiate between settlements and anything else in the West Bank. It in no way represents a boycott or anything like that.”

The Obama administration has resisted entreaties recently from the pro-Israel community and some lawmakers in Congress to oppose the new European Union policy of labeling products from the West Bank. State Department spokesmen have said that do so would run counter to US policy.

The 1997 policy was made in the wake of the establishment of limited Palestinian sovereignty in parts of the West Bank following the Oslo Accords. The policy as stated then includes exceptions, for instance, allowing goods manufactured in Qualifying Industrial Zones — areas established through the consent of all sides where Israeli and foreign businessmen establish enterprises employing Palestinians. Products from the zones may be labeled as made in Israel.

Two US trade representatives under President George W. Bush — Rob Portman, now a Republican senator from Ohio, and Susan Schwab — in 2005 and 2009 respectively issued orders broadly expanding the qualifying zones exception, allowing “Made in Israel” labeling to include any product manufactured anywhere in the West Bank.

The Obama administration’s policy appears to be a return to the intent of the regulation as drafted in the days of the Clinton administration, strictly reserving such exemptions for products manufactured in the qualifying zones.

Toner in his remarks Thursday did not say what allegations were brought to the Customs and Border Protection agency, except to say there were nine or 10.

The agency did not return JTA’s requests for comment.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

March 19, 2019
Two men found dead within Haifa apartment, foul play suspected