The US State Department has come out in support of the European Union’s policies which distinguish between Israel and Judea, Samaria, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, The Times of Israel reported. Spokesman John Kirby added the US does not view the recent EU labelling policy as tantamount to a boycott.
“Our longstanding position on settlements is clear,” Kirby said at the daily press briefing Tuesday. “We view Israeli settlement activity as illegitimate and counterproductive to the cause of peace.
“We remain deeply concerned about Israel’s current policy on settlements, including construction, planning, and retroactive legalizations. The US government has never defended or supported Israeli settlements, because administrations from both parties have long recognized that settlement activity beyond the 1967 lines and efforts to change the facts on the ground undermine prospects for a two-state solution,” Kirby added. “We are no different.”
Diplomatic reporter Matt Lee with Associated Press asked Kirby if this meant the US has “no issue” with the EU’s decision this week that its agreements with Israel are not applicable beyond the 1967 borders.
Not only does the US not have a problem with the EU distinction, it also does not object to its change in labelling policy, enacted in November despite Israel’s best efforts to prevent it. According to the new policy, products made in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights or East Jerusalem may not be labeled “Made in Israel”, but must indicate they are made in these territories.
“We do not view labeling the origin of products as being from the settlements a boycott of Israel,” Kirby said. “We also do not believe that labeling the origin of products is equivalent to a boycott.”
Last week, the foreign ministers of the 28 members of the EU declared they are “committed to ensure continued, full and effective implementation of existing EU legislation and bilateral arrangements applicable to settlements products.” As such, they vowed to “ensure that — in line with international law — all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.”