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Republican senators urge Trump to label West Bank goods as 'Made in Israel'

Republican senators urge Trump to label West Bank goods as 'Made in Israel'
© Bonnie Cash

A group of Republican senators sent a letter to President TrumpDonald TrumpRomney: 'Pretty sure' Trump would win 2024 GOP nomination if he ran for president Pence huddles with senior members of Republican Study Committee Trump says 'no doubt' Tiger Woods will be back after accident MORE this week asking him to alter U.S. customs policy so that “Made in Israel” labels are put on products coming from the West Bank, a territory much of the world says is illegally occupied by Israeli settlements.

The letter, dated Monday and shared by Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonOn The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears Biden health nominee faces first Senate test Trump to attend private RNC donor retreat MORE (R-Ark.) on Twitter on Wednesday, is signed by Cotton, as well as fellow Republican Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Defense: Law enforcement officials blame Pentagon 'reluctance' to deploy National Guard in first hearing on Capitol attack | Watchdog report finds Pentagon didn't fully evaluate border deployment requests | Biden's UN ambassador confirmed Top cops deflect blame over Capitol attack Sanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack MORE (Texas), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack Senate confirms Vilsack as Agriculture secretary DeSantis easily defeats Rubio, Scott in hypothetical presidential primary: poll MORE (Fla.) and Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerGeorgia's GOP-led Senate passes bill requiring ID for absentee voting Lawmakers commemorate one-year anniversary of Arbery's killing Perdue rules out 2022 Senate bid against Warnock MORE (Ga.). 

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The GOP senators called on Trump to reverse a 2016 Obama administration move to reestablish a 1995 policy that required products produced in Judea and Samaria, the Israeli government’s term for the West Bank territory, to be labeled, “Made in West Bank.” 

“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.”

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“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 PompeoMike PompeoTrump to attend private RNC donor retreat On China, is Biden channeling Trump or Trump's administration? They're not the same House Republican calls on Biden to boycott Beijing Olympics MORE, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinOn The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears Mnuchin expected to launch investment fund seeking backing from Persian Gulf region: report Larry Kudlow debuts to big ratings on Fox Business Network MORE and acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad WolfChad WolfLiberal watchdog group files ethics complaint over Boebert's reimbursements Left-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides Sunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus MORE.

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

However, the Trump administration has more recently taken steps to legitimize the territory occupied by Israel. 

On Thursday, Pompeo is expected to visit an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, making him the first U.S. secretary of State to do so. 

Axios first reported the news last week, writing that Pompeo is expected to visit a winery in the Psagot settlement in the West Bank, which was earlier targeted among European Union efforts to label Israeli products from these areas as coming from occupied territory. 

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. 

Other notable moves by the Trump administration in its increasingly pro-Israel policy include the formal recognition by the U.S. of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the U.S. embassy to the city, as well as pursuing diplomatic relations with Israel between Arab- and Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East without the presence of Palestinian representatives.