US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced a shift in the country's policy towards Israeli settlements in the West Bank region, as, according to the new guidelines, goods manufactured there will now be labelled as having been “Made in Israel”, The Hill reports.
The new State Department guidance is expected to apply to goods made in areas “where Israel exercises the relevant authority”, with such products to be labelled as “Israeli”, “Product of Israel” or “Made in Israel” when exported to the US.
Pompeo also noted that products made on the territories administered by the Palestinian Authority will be recognised as products of the "West Bank", and goods made in Gaza will have a different label, since the new policy "recognises that the territories are separately administered by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip", as the media outlet puts it.
"Under the new approach, we will no longer accept ‘West Bank/Gaza’ or similar markings, in recognition that Gaza and the West Bank are politically and administratively separate and should be treated accordingly," he said in a statement.
Pompeo made this announcement during a visit to the Israeli settlement of Psagot in the West Bank, reportedly "marking the first time a sitting Secretary of State has travelled to an Israeli settlement."
This move by the White House will likely elicit backlash from European governments and human rights groups who argue that Israeli settlements in the West Bank "contribute to human rights abuses against Palestinians and harm efforts to reach a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict", the media outlet adds.
And in 2019, the European Court of Justice ruled that "foodstuffs originating in the territories occupied by the State of Israel must bear the indication of their territory of origin, accompanied, where those foodstuffs come from an Israeli settlement within that territory, by an indication of that provenance", so the new measure effectively puts the United States at odds with the European Union.