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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 John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit 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 CottonO'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection More conservatives break with Trump over election claims MORE (R-Ark.) on Twitter on Wednesday, is signed by Cotton, as well as fellow Republican Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol MORE (Texas), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday Rubio signals opposition to Biden Cabinet picks Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks MORE (Fla.) and Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerFeinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight House Democrat accuses Air Force of attempting to influence Georgia runoff races Ossoff, Warnock to knock on doors in runoff campaigns 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 PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoO'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' Israeli military instructed to prepare for Trump strike on Iran: report Biden's State Department picks are a diplomatic slam dunk MORE, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Initial jobless claims rise for 2nd week | Dow dips below 30K | Mnuchin draws fire for COVID-19 relief move | Manhattan DA appeals dismissal of Manafort charges Mnuchin to put 5B in COVID-19 relief funds beyond successor's reach The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience MORE and acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad WolfChad WolfBiden picks first Latino to lead Homeland Security Republican senators urge Trump to label West Bank goods as 'Made in Israel' Judge says acting DHS secretary appointment unlawful, invalidates DACA suspension 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.