Wine festival in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The US Embassy in Tel Aviv made headlines on Monday by accidentally including an unusual item in its annual Rosh Hashana gift basket – a bottle of wine made in a West Bank settlement.
The wine was placed in the basket by a third party vendor from whom the embassy purchased the pre-wrapped baskets, a US source told The Jerusalem Post.
It was produced in the West Bank industrial park of Mishor Adumim, which is located right outside of the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement.
Among the recipients of the baskets were Israeli left-wing groups, such as Peace Now and Yesh Din, neither of whom wanted to comment on the matter.
Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel chuckled at the irony of the diplomatic faux pas.
“Our wine is better and sweeter than what is produced in the Napa Valley,” Kashriel said. “Those who receive the gift basket will be very happy with the wine.”
US Embassy spokeswoman Valerie O’Brien said: “We would not have included the wine had we known that it was from the settlements.”
“We strongly oppose boycotts targeting the State of Israel, but maintain our long-standing policy that settlements are illegitimate and harmful to the prospects for peace and to Israel’s long-term security,” O’Brien said.
Ma’aleh Adumim, Israel’s third largest settlement which is home to over 37,000, is considered to be within a settlement bloc. Israel holds that such blocs will be part of its permanent borders, in any final-status agreement with the Palestinians.
In the last year, right-wing politicians, led by the Land of Israel caucus, have begun a drive to annex Ma’aleh Adumim, in advance of any peace deal with the Palestinians.