The US has started to label products from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as "Made in Israel". Washington claims that this is to mark goods in accordance with import laws and regulations.
In a statement published yesterday by US Customs and Border Protection, it called for the accuracy of the labelling on products from territories held by Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Gaza to be "consistent with the United States' foreign policy approach."
Under the new ruling, all products made and packaged in the areas controlled by Israel and its military – including those in the West Bank formerly held by the PA – are to be marked as Israeli-made. The areas mentioned include the West Bank's Area C, where around 150,000 Palestinians live under Israel's full control.
The order came into effect yesterday and follows last month's landmark visit to a settlement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Prior to Pompeo's visit, he announced that the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against illegal settlement goods will be branded as "anti-Semitic" by the US.
The labelling of goods from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories has long been a debated issue. Prior to the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the US required all products from those areas to mention Israel. Since 1995, however, products from the West Bank and Gaza have been required to be labelled from those territories; two years later, they were allowed to have the joint label of "West Bank/Gaza".
In 2016, under President Barack Obama, it was ruled that wrongly labelling settlement goods as "Made in Israel" could lead to fines being levied.
Even though the new ruling has now come into effect, importers have been given a 90-day grace period to implement the changes to their labels.
This new development ensures that consumers who want to buy products from the Palestinian territories and not Israel or its settlements can do so more easily. Nevertheless, such labelling gives US legitimacy to the settlements, all of which are illegal under international law.