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'Made in Israel': Rise in U.S. Complaints Over 'Mislabeled' Exports From Settlements

U.S. customs draws distinction between products actually 'Made in Israel' and those from West Bank settlements.

The United States Department of the Treasury is reporting an increase in allegations that merchandise produced in West Bank Jewish settlements is being imported into the U.S. without the proper country of origin markings, in contradiction to U.S customs regulations.

Each year the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency receives between 800 and 1,000 complaints regarding the import of items from around the world into the country. Recently, the CBP confirmed, there has been a growing number of complaints about products ostensibly manufactured in the settlements but exported under a different label. The CBP declined to say whether it has contacted the Israeli exporters or begun any proceedings against them.

In response to a question by Haaretz, the CBP spokeswoman confirmed the guidelines. "Marking items produced in the West Bank or Gaza Strip as 'Made in Israel,' 'Israel,' 'Occupied Territories-Israel,' or words of similar meaning, and later exporting those items to the U.S., is contrary to the noted Treasury decisions," she said.

She added that when it comes to items imported from East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights, the customs service has no special instructions, and declined to say whether new guidelines regarding those areas are anticipated. The CBP also confirmed that when required, it generally turns to the State Department for guidance on the issue.

Last year, shortly after the European Union's decision ordering separate labels for items from the settlements, the CBP sent updated instructions to importers, but these did not constitute a change in U.S. policy.

The CBP spokeswoman also declined to say whether any punitive measures have been taken against violators of the labeling rule. 

“CBP does not comment on specific investigations or enforcement actions related to alleged infractions of Customs law received through our e-Allegations online portal," she said. "In general, however, CBP receives between 800 to 1,000 wide-ranging e-Allegation submissions from the public each year. There has been no change in policy or practice in how CBP responds to allegations of trade violations. Each allegation receives a thorough analysis and enforcement actions are recommended, if warranted."

Since 1995, tax regulations require that products from the settlements be marked as originating in "West Bank and Gaza," "West Bank/Gaza Strip," "West Bank/Gaza," "West Bank and Gaza Strip," "West Bank," "Gaza," or "Gaza Strip." 

The CBP published a clarification two years later, explaining that the regulations were changed following a 1994 request by the State Department, after Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed the Declaration of Principles as part of the Oslo Accords in 1993.

In 2015, the EU adopted legislation that requires the labeling of all goods outside of Israel's 1967 borders as coming from the West Bank, Gaza or the Golan Heights. In addition, products made by Israelis in West Bank settlements will be labeled as such under the legislation.

Uri Blau

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.762600

Schermata 2017 01 04 alle 22.39.02

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police




The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives.

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