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 TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol 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 CottonOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal MORE (R-Ark.) on Twitter on Wednesday, is signed by Cotton, as well as fellow Republican Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant More than 10,000 migrants await processing under bridge in Texas Senators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State MORE (Texas), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioMilley says calls to China were 'perfectly within the duties' of his job Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE (Fla.) and Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerWarnock picks up major abortion rights group's endorsement in reelection bid Trump endorses Hershel Walker for Georgia Senate seat Herschel Walker's entrance shakes up Georgia Senate race 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 PompeoSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Christie, Pompeo named co-chairs of GOP redistricting group America needs a new strategy for Pacific Island Countries MORE, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinMenendez, Rubio ask Yellen to probe meatpacker JBS The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Biden rallies Senate Dems behind mammoth spending plan Mnuchin dodges CNBC questions on whether Trump lying over election MORE and acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad WolfChad WolfSunday shows preview: States deal with fallout of Ida; Texas abortion law takes effect Biden, Trump battle over who's to blame for Afghanistan The border is shifting from a manufactured crisis to a national embarrassment 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.