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US labels products manufactured in illegal West Bank settlements as ‘Made in Israel’

A picture taken on November 12, 2020 shows a view of ongoing construction work at Ramat Shlomo, a settlement in the Israeli-annexed eastern sector of Jerusalem al-Quds. (Photo by AFP)

The United States has started to label products from Israeli settlements built contrary to international law in the occupied Palestinian territories as “Made in Israel,” saying the move was consistent with Washington’s foreign policy approach.

US Customs and Border Protection announced said an order initiated by the outgoing President Donald Trump's administration requiring goods made in Israeli-occupied areas of the West Bank to be labeled as Israeli products had come into effect.

The order said goods manufactured in Palestinian areas of the West Bank will be marked as made in the West Bank, while Gaza-produced items must indicate they were made in the Palestinian coastal enclave, rejecting any joint “West Bank/Gaza” labels that had been permitted since 1997.

The policy shift was announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in November following an unprecedented visit to a West Bank settlement.

Prior to his visit, Pompeo had announced that the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against settlement goods would be branded as “anti-Semitic” by the US.

Since 1995, the US has required products made in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to be labeled as such.

The directive was republished in 2016 by the administration of former President Barack Obama, which warned that labeling goods as “Made in Israel” could lead to fines.

Prior to the Oslo Accords, however, all products manufactured in those areas were required to mention Israel in their label when exporting to the United States.

It is unclear whether the incoming administration of US President-elect Joe Biden will uphold the new order.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates denounced the announcement on Thursday, calling it a “war crime and a violation of international law and all international regulations.”

The ministry said in a statement that the labeling was an attempt to legitimize products from illegal Israeli settlements as well as the theft of Palestinian land, and could encourage more Israeli war crimes against Palestinians.

It called on the international community and freedom-loving people to boycott products made in Israeli settlements, as they represent a blatant violation of international conventions as per the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

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