Lawmakers want pushback over Israel labels

Lawmakers want pushback over Israel labels
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A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Thursday sounded an alarm about European plans to prevent products made in the Palestinian territories from being labeled “Made in Israel.”

A day after the European Union released the new labeling guidelines, four congressional lawmakers told the Obama administration that it should use mechanisms in an upcoming trade deal to push back.

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The labeling standards “can, and indeed should, be viewed as part of the European Union’s (EU) larger campaign to try and impose borders on Israel outside of a negotiated peace process,” the four lawmakers wrote in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.

In response, the U.S. should turn to provisions in the fast-track trade bill Congress passed earlier this year, which seek to combat the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, they wrote.

Provisions in that legislation make it a “principal negotiating objective” of the U.S., during trade talks with Europe, to “discourage politically motivated actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel.”

Another provision makes it a priority to “seek the elimination of politically motivated nontariff barriers on Israeli goods, services, or other commerce imposed on the State of Israel."

The new EU guidelines tell member countries not to label products as “Made in Israel” if there were produced in the West Bank, Golan Heights or East Jerusalem. Those territories are “Israeli settlements,” the EU explained, and consumers would be misled by believing they came from Israel proper. 

That policy “is exactly the kind of activity we had anticipated” in the trade legislation, the four lawmakers told Froman on Thursday.

The four lawmakers signing onto the letter are Reps. Peter Roskam Peter James RoskamEx-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm Blue states angry over SALT cap should give fiscal sobriety a try Illinois Dems offer bill to raise SALT deduction cap MORE (R-Ill.) and Juan VargasJuan C. VargasHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment ICE does not know how many veterans it has deported, watchdog says Pelosi employs committee chairs to tamp down calls for Trump impeachment MORE (D-Calif.) as well as Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanCost for last three government shutdowns estimated at billion The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation MORE (R-Ohio), and Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinSenate confirms two Treasury nominees over Democratic objections Congress passes bill to begin scenic byways renaissance GOP lawmaker: 'Dangerous' abuse of Interpol by Russia, China, Venezuela MORE (D-Md.). Cardin is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  

The EU’s move on Thursday deeply upset backers of Israel, who viewed the decision as a discriminatory act that undermines the country's security.

“Europe should be ashamed of itself,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video statement. “It took an immoral decision.”

“Of the hundreds of territorial conflicts around the world, it chose to single our Israel and Israel alone, while it’s fighting with its back against the wall against a wave of terror.”