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Issue Two: Israel West Bank Woes?
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JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We do not view labeling the origin of products as being from the settlements a boycott of Israel. We also do not believe that labeling the origin of products is equivalent to a boycott.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): The Obama administration sparked controversy this week when it failed to condemn a European Union, E.U. product labeling policy that Israel fiercely opposes. Under the recent E.U. regulations, member states can require Israel companies in the West Bank to label their exported products as "West Bank", quote-unquote, rather than Israel in origin.
And the E.U. and the U.S. government oppose Israeli settlements in the West Bank designated land they say that must be held for a future Palestinian state. But Israel believes these restrictions are prejudicially and even anti-Semitic.
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MCLAUGHLIN: What is the significance of, quote-unquote, "made in the West Bank", unquote, labels? Tom Rogan?
ROGAN: The significance is the economic impact that Israel concerns, it has concerns about it in terms of Europeans not wanting to buy these products, because they believe that it’s Palestinian land and thus it’s immoral to buy those products.
I would say here, though, the difficulty that you see is that on the one side, I think most people around the world would say, and I certainly I would also say, that West Bank settlement construction on the part of the Israeli government is profoundly negative, both of the United States, in terms of the indirect consequences of that, in terms of our relationships with important partners in the Arab world.
But at the same time, putting these boycotts on them, and I’m afraid that’s what it is, the negative impact of that is that it puts -- it simplifies what is an incredibly complex issue.
CLIFT: It’s not a boycott.
ROGAN: And it defers the necessary diplomatic choices because the West Bank, very quickly, it will be the ’67 borders with associated swaps. So, some of that land will be Israeli.
CLIFT: It’s not a boycott. It’s truth in advertising. These products are made in the West Bank. And for consumers who believe that Israeli settlement building and manufacturing in the West Bank is illegal, they then have a choice not to buy those products.
So, I don’t --
PAGE: It sounds like a boycott to me.
CLIFT: Yes, but it’s -- you know, who’s boycotting them? You’re just putting on there where it’s made. I don’t think you can call that a boycott.