- Published: Sunday, January 31, 2016 - 7:11 PM
- Tags: Eytan Gilboa; US Customs; IsraelObamaWest Bank; Judea Samaria; Omri Ceren
Enforcement Of Old Guidelines Labeling West Bank Products Indicates Obama Administration Has Adopted EU Boycott Measures Against Israel
Last week, Western Journalism reported a dramatic change in longstanding U.S. policy toward Israel instigated by the Obama administration, which now appears to side with the European Union on key issues in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and no longer opposes boycott measures against the Jewish State.
Professor Eytan Gilboa, a senior researcher at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, who specializes in U.S. Israel relations, predicted in the report that Obama would not behave like a lame duck president when it comes to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Gilboa said “Obama will probably seek to achieve a comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — not by organizing a new round of negotiations, but by trying to get the EU, UN and all sorts of international bodies to pressure Israel on the issue of the settlements in Judea and Samaria”.
One of the measures the EU imposed on Israel to force a change in its policies toward the Palestinians is the differentiation between products manufactured in the West Bank and Israel proper.
At the end of last year, the EU decided to label goods made in Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem as non-Israeli products.
Two weeks ago, the EU adopted a new resolution on the matter that ‘unequivocally and explicitly’ stated no business deals between Israel and European companies can apply to the Jewish communities in these areas.
The Israeli government vehemently opposes both measures and has called them anti-Israel. Some in Israel even called the measures anti-Semitic and reminiscent of steps the Nazi’s took against Jewish entrepreneurs in Germany.
The Obama administration had always said it viewed the labeling measure as a form of boycott against Israel and made clear it opposed such measures. But two weeks ago, the State Department suddenlyannounced it no longer considered the labeling of goods produced in the Israeli communities in the disputed territories a boycott of the Jewish State.
This announcement marked the beginning of a new era in U.S.-Israeli relations.
On Thursday, news broke that the administration had ordered the enforcement of 20-year-old guidelines about the labeling of products manufactured in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. The guidelines had been dormant until last week and were a byproduct of the Oslo accords. They were originally meant to give a boost to the Palestinian economy and certainly weren’t designed as a boycott measure against Israel. Now that seems to have been changed.
The U.S. Customs statement restated the terms of the 1995 guidelines that required products from Gaza and the West Bank be labeled as such.
“It is not acceptable to mark the aforementioned goods with the words ‘Israel,’ ‘Made in Israel,’ ‘Occupied Territories-Israel’ or any variation thereof,” the U.S. Customs statement read.
“Goods that are erroneously marked as products of Israel will be subject to an enforcement action carried out by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Goods entering the United States must conform to the U.S. marking statute and regulations promulgated there under,” the agency warned.
News about the enforcement of the dormant guidelines coincided with unusual sharp condemnations of Israel’s policies in the so-called West Bank by Obama officials and drew a sharp response from Israeli government officials.
The State Department, however, denies the memo had anything to do with a change in policy toward Israel.
“We are aware that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection re-issued guidance on their marking requirements. There has been no change in policy or in our approach to enforcement of marking requirements,” a state department official told the Washington Free Beacon.
State department spokesman Mark Toner said the decision to reissue its labeling policy “had been taken after complaints that some West Bank products had been mislabeled prior to U.S. import.”
But Omri Ceren, the managing director of The Israel Project, didn’t buy it.
“This is an administration that slaps labels on Jewish goods on a Saturday and has the president give a Holocaust Remembrance speech the next Wednesday,” Ceren told the newspaper. “It’s worse than incoherent. It needlessly alienates Israel at a time when the Middle East is falling apart and U.S. allies are looking for signals about whose side the administration is on.”
An analyst at the Jewish Press added the “basis for the original regulation – the one everyone insists is all that is in play – was the Oslo accords and the creation of a new state – one that remains stillborn – and the wrongly anticipated unification of Gaza and the Palestinian Arab governing force in the West Bank.” Those bases were weak back in 1997, but they are now long-decayed legs upon which to place this labeling requirement.
And that’s the reason the regulations have not been enforced until now. There is no viable Palestinian State. There are no enforceable Oslo accords. There is no unity Palestinian Arab government.
If that is all true, the new-old regulations should remain null and void.
This article first appeared at Western Journalism. com