The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized the Obama Administration, following a disclosure from the State Department revealing that the United States supports the recent European Union (EU) decision to start labeling Israeli products produced in Judea/Samaria. The EU is set to label such produce as ‘Israeli settlement product,’ rather than ‘Made in Israel,’ as has been the case till now.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said yesterday that, “We do not believe that labeling the origin of products is equivalent to a boycott. And as you know, we do not consider settlements to be part of Israel. We do not view labeling the origin of products as being from the settlements as a boycott of Israel” (Ari Yashar, ‘Obama approves of EU labeling of Jewish products,’ Israel National News, November 12, 2015).
However, while claiming that U.S. opposition to boycotts of Israel had not changed, he also let slip the truth that the Obama Administration clearly understands the labeling of Israeli products from Judea/Samaria is part of a policy of boycott when said, “if Israel continues to expand settlement activity, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to –– if some in the international community pursue steps to limit commercial relations with the settlements.” (Mark C. Toner, Deputy Spokesperson, Daily Press Briefing, Washington, DC, November 10, 2015).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The Obama Administration has now made clear what it attempted to conceal and equivocate on earlier last week –– that it supports rather than opposes the EU decision to label Israeli products produced in Judea/Samaria.
“This is not only wrong in principle, but harmful to the cause of peace. If Palestinians are ever to accept Israel’s legitimacy and permanence as a Jewish state –– a prerequisite for peace –– then it is vital that its pro-terror, anti-peace acts not be rewarded. The EU labeling and its support by President Obama rewards Mahmoud Abbas’ PA and Hamas in their efforts to delegitimize Israel.
“These new EU rules, as the distinguished international legal authority, Professor Eugene Kontorovich, has pointed out in an op-ed in the New York Times, contradicts the EU’s own official positions, the rulings of various European national courts and the basic tenets of the World Trade Organization.
“Coming on the heels of earlier steps to bar spending EU funds on Israeli academic, scientific or cultural projects in Judea/Samaria and the Golan Heights, the refusal to allow importation of certain Israeli agricultural products and then issuing warnings about interactions with Jewish communities in Judea/Samaria — the labeling, as Professor Kontorovich observes,” is but a further ‘highly visible step in a conscious process of building a legal ghetto around Israel, within which a special set of rules applies.’
“The malicious double standards could not be more obvious. Where is the labeling or boycott of goods produced in territories internationally deemed occupied in Cyprus, Morocco, Turkey or Tibet? Yet, the Obama Administration supports the EU violating its own trade laws, regulatory consistency and principles of international law.
“Mr. Toner has made the flat earth statement that ‘we do not consider settlements to be part of Israel’ –– yet, clearly, the sole reason these products are being labeled by the EU is precisely because they are Israeli. They are not Palestinian products.
“The EU decision to label products from Judea/Samaria, which the Obama Administration supports, extends solely and deliberately to Jewish Israeli enterprises in Judea/Samaria. And the sole purpose of labeling Israeli products from Judea/Samaria is to enable countries, importers, supermarkets and consumers to identify and boycott these goods. Labeling is an indispensable element of the boycott.
“In short, Mr. Toner is saying that this isn’t a boycott of Israel –– It’s a boycott of Israeli Jews, because they are Israeli Jews, living and engaged in commerce in Judea/Samaria. The Obama Administration supports the anti-Semitic boycott of Jewish businesses.
“Jews living in Judea/Samaria are not the reason for the absence of peace, and the U.S. should not be supporting the anti-Semitic, discriminatory Palestinian Arab demand that a future Palestinian state in these territories be Judenrein.
“Judea/Samaria is part of the territory earmarked by the 1920 San Remo Treaty for Jewish settlement. This decision was subsequently incorporated into the League of Nations Palestine Mandate conferred on Britain. This determination has never been superseded by an internationally binding agreement and Jewish residential rights in Judea/Samaria thus, remain unimpaired.
“Judea/Samaria are not occupied territory, but unallocated territory under international law –– they belonged to no sovereign state prior to the 1967 war in which Israel captured it from its illegal occupier, Jordan — which, unlike Israel, lacked a valid claim to the territories in question. That’s why UN Security Council Resolution 242, passed after the 1967 war, did not brand Israel the aggressor, nor does it demand immediate, unconditional and total withdrawal by Israel. Israel is legally entitled to administer these territories until a peace agreement finalizes its status.
“Jewish residence in Judea/Samaria has a fundamental legitimacy and poses no obstacle to a true peace if Palestinians are ready for one. Rather, Palestinian Arab refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state, to end terrorism, and to terminate the incitement to hatred and murder against Israel — these are the reasons peace has not been achieved.
“We call upon President Obama to immediately rescind this policy, starting with a disavowal of Mr. Toner’s statement. We call upon the U.S. Congress to declare its opposition to it and to take whatever steps necessary to change this policy if the Obama Administration does not do so.”