A US congressman fighting delegitimization of Israel garnered support for a new bill opposing the labeling of products, saying such a policy is discriminatory.
Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado, along with support from Representatives Martha McSally and Ron DeSantis, last week introduced the “Non-Discrimination of Israel in Labeling Act” – H.R. 4555.
“I am pleased to stand with Israel by introducing the Non-Discrimination of Israel in Labeling Act. This bill secures Israel’s right to label its products, including in the settlements, which protects both Palestinian and Israeli interests and jobs,” Lamborn stated.
Lamborn issued a press release, saying that on January 23, “the Obama Administration bucked historical precedent concerning labeling guidelines for goods manufactured in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] and Gaza.”
He was referring to the reissuing of guidelines last month on labeling Israeli products from Judea and Samaria and Gaza. The guidelines – which note that under U.S. law, “it is not acceptable to mark the aforementioned goods with the words ‘Israel,’ ‘Made in Israel,’ ‘Occupied Territories-Israel,’ or any variation thereof” – had been in effect since 1995, after the signing of the Oslo Accords.
According to an Israeli TV report, the reinstatement of the labeling policy came in response to Palestinian complaints, which was confirmed by State Department spokesman Mark Toner.
This step “is greatly concerning and represents an alarming shift in the Obama Administration’s stance towards Israel,” Lamborn said in the press release, adding that “the original intent of the labeling guidelines, which were only meant to ensure that the Palestinian administered areas, after the Oslo Accords, govern their own import/export procedures and compliance. Therefore, this legislation is needed to clarify the labeling guidelines, as they were never intended to apply to Israeli controlled territory within the West Bank or Gaza, and were subject to final status negotiations.”
In an open letter to Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew, published as an op-ed in The Algemeiner on February 8, Lamborn stated:
“The world is a strange and dangerous place. Yet, this administration wants to seemingly force Israel to make unilateral and dangerous concessions…
“It seems to me that a labeling requirement drafted 20 years ago to promote Palestinian goods under entirely different circumstances but never enforced is now being dusted off and resurrected to coerce Israel out of spite,” Lamborn said.
The congressman expressed appreciation to other Members of the US House of Representatives for supporting him on “this important legislation,” including Representative Martha McSally, who asserted: “Israel is one of our strongest allies and the only real democracy in the Middle East. Instead of undermining Israel, we need to show we stand with them.”
“I appreciate Congressman Lamborn’s leadership in introducing the Non-Discrimination of Israel in Labeling Act in order to ensure that Israeli products do not face undue discrimination in our marketplaces”, Representative Ron DeSantis concurred.
“I am honored to work with many Members in opposing this effort to delegitimize the nation of Israel,” Lamborn said.