U.S. Customs Renews Order Labeling Israeli Settlement Products

Is the U.S. joining the EU in labeling Israeli settlement products?

On January 23, the U.S. Customs released a statement reminding American importers that goods produced in the West Bank should not be allowed to be imported if labeled as “Made in Israel.”

“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’,” the statement reads. “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 thereunder.”

The guidance was a reminder of an existing regulation first imposed in 1997 on merchandise imported from the West Bank, Gaza Strip, or Israel.

According to the Forward, while the provision instructs that the failure to mark such products would result in the levy of a duty of 10 percent of the product’s value, the law is barely enforced, if at all, said the Forward.

On Twitter, as the reminder was publicized on Thursday, some drew a parallel with the EU labeling initiative.

The European Commission adopted in November the “Notice on indication of the origin of goods from the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967.” The notice contains guidelines for labeling of products from the West Bank settlements being sold in the 28 countries part of the EU. For products from the West Bank or the Golan Heights, “product from the Golan Heights (Israeli settlement)” or “product from West Bank (Israeli settlement)” need to be added in brackets.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the EU initiative “an immoral decision.” He later ordered the Foreign Ministry to carry out “a reassessment of the involvement of EU bodies in everything that is connected to the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.”

An unnamed State Department official told the Washington Free Beacon on Thursday that the new memo does not reflect a shift in longstanding policy. “We are aware that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection re-issued guidance on their marking requirements,” the official was quoted as saying. “There has been no change in policy or in our approach to enforcement of marking requirements.”

2016 presidential candidates have yet to comment on the recent development. “I’ll predict this is a measure that will be repealed in less than a year on Jan 20, 2017, even under @HillaryClinton,” tweeted Jeremy Saltan.

Saltan is the Bayit Yehudi’s Anglo Forum Chairman and Education Minister, Naftali Bennett’s English Campaign manager in 2013 and 2015. “The timing is very unfortunate and disappointing. Right after such an important visit and speech by POTUS,” he told Jewish Insider. “The Administration had seven years to make this move, and they choose the timing to enforce this law at a time when there are no ongoing talks and it is clear the reason behind that is the Palestinian incitement and violence.”

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