US to label exports from West Bank settlements as Israeli: Pompeo
Jerusalem (AFP) –
The US will label exports from Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank as Israeli, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Thursday, in Washington's latest move backing Israel's authority over the Palestinian territory.
"All producers within areas where Israel exercises the relevant authorities... will be required to mark goods as 'Israel', 'Product of Israel', or 'Made in Israel' when exporting to the United States," Pompeo said in a statement.
He said the new guidelines apply "most notably" to Area C, the large part of the West Bank where Israel retains full civil and military control and where much of the settler population lives.
Area C also includes the strategic Jordan Valley and many Palestinian communities, areas that Israel considers to be disputed territory.
Pompeo's announcement seems to imply that even Palestinian exports from Area C should be tagged as Israeli products.
"Area C producers operate within the economic and administrative framework of Israel and their goods should be treated accordingly," he said.
President Donald Trump's top envoy also announced new guidelines for exports from West Bank areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
Such products will be marked "West Bank," while goods from Gaza, controlled by the Islamist group Hamas, will be marked "Gaza".
That decision effectively means that the Trump administration no longer recognises products as coming from the Palestinian Territories.
Pompeo said the move was necessary because "Gaza and the West Bank are politically and administratively separate and should be treated accordingly. "
The Palestinians view the Trump administration as blatantly pro-Israeli and have cut ties with Washington.
President-elect Joe Biden has said he will restore a more traditional approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in part by opposing Israeli settlements.
Excluding Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, there are currently about 450,000 Jewish settlers living in the West Bank, alongside more than 2.7 million Palestinians.
© 2020 AFP