Pompeo: Products from West Bank to be labelled 'Made in Israel'

Pompeo becomes first US secretary of state to visit W. Bank settlement, Golan.

 (photo credit: KOBI GIDON / GPO)
(photo credit: KOBI GIDON / GPO)
The US will allow goods produced in West Bank settlements to be labeled products of Israel as opposed to the West Bank, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Thursday during the first-ever visit by someone in his position to an Israeli entity in Judea and Samaria.
The new guidelines “ensure that country-of-origin markings for Israeli and Palestinian good are consistent with our reality-based foreign-policy approach,” Pompeo said.
“This approach recognizes that Area C producers operate within the economic and administrative framework of Israel, and their goods should be treated accordingly,” he said. “This update will also eliminate confusion by recognizing that producers in other parts of the West Bank are for all practical purposes administratively separate and that their goods should be marked accordingly.”
The US also will no longer accept labels that say “West Bank\Gaza” for Palestinian-made goods; they must say either West Bank or Gaza because the areas are “politically and administratively separate.”
Pompeo reversed 25 years of policy that required such products to be labeled as made in the West Bank. The Clinton administration required that goods from settlements be labeled as coming from the West Bank following the Oslo Accords.
Those rules were not enforced. But in 2016, the Obama administration warned that labeling settlement goods as products of Israel could carry a fine.
This announcement also goes beyond the Trump administration’s “Vision for Peace,” which would have allowed Israel to extend its sovereignty to up to 30% of the West Bank. Now, anything produced in Area C, which makes up about 60% of the area, would be labeled “Made in Israel.”
The change in policy came on the same day that Pompeo announced the State Department considers the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to be illegal. That announcement included a denunciation of “discriminatory labeling” and attempts to limit trade with Israel or “any territory controlled by Israel,” meaning Judea and Samaria.
Pompeo made the announcement during the first visit by a US secretary of state to an Israeli entity in Judea and Samaria, stopping at the Psagot Winery in the Sha’ar Binyamin Industrial Park on Thursday.
His visit was called a private one, and no Israeli government officials joined him.
Pompeo’s predecessors as secretary of state have only visited the West Bank under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority, but never in a settlement because they maintained Israel’s presence there was illegitimate.
Under Pompeo, the State Department maintains that Israeli settlements are not inherently illegal. Pompeo went further than that simple statement by declaring that Jews had a historic and religious right to the land, something no past US administration ever recognized. In addition, he refers to the area by its Biblical name, Judea and Samaria.
The winery, established two decades ago, has been at the forefront of the battle to legitimize West Bank settlements, particularly the issue of product labeling. It named a special vintage after Pompeo, following the policy change on the status of settlements.
Pompeo was met at the Psagot Winery by a small protest from the left-wing group Peace Now. Activists stood outside the winery as his helicopter landed, holding signs that said: “USA Stop Undermining Peace” and “Occupied Territory Can’t Be Normalized.”
Regarding the visit, Peace Now said: “By going to Psagot Winery, Secretary of State Pompeo seems to be doubling down on his administration’s insistence that settlements are not illegal, despite the overwhelming evidence and international consensus.”
“Fortunately, this last pathetic attempt to undermine the prospects for peace by normalizing the settlements will fail as badly as the Trump Plan did,” it said.
The Israeli Right, however, maintains that Pompeo’s visit builds on the Trump administration’s work to strengthen the legality of the settlements.
“Secretary Pompeo’s visit to Psagot is a historic event, showing that the US does not only regard Israeli settlements as not illegal per se, but actually legal and legitimate in practice,” said Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, director of international law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum. “While Pompeo’s successor is unlikely to repeat this visit, he cannot undo it either.”
Pompeo and his wife visited the City of David in Jerusalem’s Old City on Thursday, as well as Qasr el-Yahud in the Jordan Valley, the site of Jesus’s baptism and where the Jewish people crossed the Jordan River into Israel 40 years after the Exodus from Egypt.