Senators Urge Trump to Change Labeling Policy on Israeli Products

YERUSHALAYIM -
Sen. Tom Cotton, Republican from Arkansas. (Drew Angerer/Pool via AP, File)

A group of Republican senators have asked President Donald Trump to order a change in labeling regulations that would protect Israeli products from boycott measures.

A letter to the president asked that “Made in Israel” labels be required for products from Israel, including from Yehuda and Shomron, was posted on Twitter by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Wednesday. The letter was signed by Cotton, as well as fellow Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Kelly Loeffler (Ga.), and dated Monday.

The senators explained that the proposal was intended to counter a directive by the Obama administration in 2016 to restore a labeling policy dating to the Clinton years that required Israeli products from Yehuda and Shomron to say “Made in West Bank.”

“While it is our understanding that this labeling policy is not enforced by U.S. authorities, we are concerned that a future administration could choose to enforce these rules and thereby differentiate Israeli goods produced in Judea and Samaria, making them prime targets for BDS boycotts.”

“We appreciate your leadership and many achievements in support of Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East,” the senators wrote. “Unfortunately, the United Nations and some prominent members of the Democratic Party are working to oppose Israel and to support the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to isolate and damage Israel economically.”

The senators added, “While it is our understanding that this labeling policy is not enforced by U.S. authorities, we are concerned that a future administration could choose to enforce these rules and thereby differentiate Israeli goods produced in Judea and Samaria, making them prime targets for BDS boycotts.”

“Your administration should continue its string of pro-Israel policy changes by undoing these misguided Clinton-era guidelines, thereby allowing Israeli goods produced in Judea and Samaria to be labeled as ‘Made in Israel,’ ” the senators concluded.

The letter was also sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf.

Since 1967, all previous U.S. presidential administrations had considered the Shomron and Golan Heights occupied territory, rather than part of Israel.

However, the Trump administration has more recently taken steps to legitimize Israel’s control. Trump formally recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights in March 2019 in a reversal of decades of U.S. policy that considered the territory occupied since Israel captured it from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War.