The United States appears to be following the European Union in taking symbolic steps to challenge the aura of normalcy with which Israel has cloaked its settlement enterprise for decades.
United States Customs officials published a notice last week clarifying that U.S. law does not permit goods manufactured in the West Bank, including in Israeli settlements, to be labeled as “made in Israel.”
The regulation is over 20 years old and the notice is just a reminder, the U.S. was quick to point out to journalists who scrambled to draw parallels to the European Union’s settlement labeling guidelines published late last year.
And while there are some significant differences between the two regulations regarding settlement products, primarily that under EU rules settlement goods are ineligible for duty free import, the message is the same.
Israel has never annexed the West Bank (save for East Jerusalem) and no country has ever recognized Israeli claims to the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip or Golan Heights. Over the past two decades, however, under the cover of various peace processes, the number of Israelis living on occupied land has swelled and swelled to well past 500,000 settlers.