Palestinians slam Pompeo move labeling West Bank goods as 'made in Israel'

The Palestinians on Thursday condemned US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to the settlement of Psagot.

They also condemned the US administration’s decision to consider goods made in settlements as Israeli products.

The Palestinian attacks on Pompeo and the US administration came as the Palestinian Authority announced it had reached an agreement with Israel on the tax revenues Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians.

The announcement came 48 hours after the PA announced it had decided to restore relations with Israel, including security coordination.

Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the Palestinian General Authority for Civil Affairs, said he met on Thursday with Israeli officials.

“It was agreed to transfer all funds belonging to the PA,” he said, referring to the tax revenues.

The PA had refused since May to accept the tax revenues due to Israel’s decision to deduct sums paid by the Palestinians to families of security prisoners and “martyrs.”

During the meeting with Israeli officials, the Palestinians “rejected the settlement policy, demolishing homes and land confiscation,” Sheikh said.
The PA, meanwhile, said it “strongly condemns” Pompeo’s visit to “a settlement built on Palestinians’ lands in Jabal al-Tail in El-Bireh.”

Referring to Pompeo’s announcement that the US will now begin labeling products from any area under Israeli control as “made in Israel,” reversing a policy in effect since 1995 that labels settlement goods as “made in the West Bank,” PA presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh said the decision is a “flagrant challenge to all international legitimacy decisions.”

The decision “comes as a continuation of the decisions of this administration, which insists on active participation in the occupation of Palestinian lands,” he said. “This US move will not legitimize the Israeli settlements, which will disappear sooner or later.”

Abu Rudaineh called on the international community, specifically the UN Security Council, “to assume its responsibilities and implement its decisions, especially the last resolution, 2334, which came with the approval of the previous US administration.”

Adopted on December 23, 2016, UN Security Council Resolution 2334 states that Israel’s settlement activity constitutes a “flagrant violation” of international law and has “no legal validity.” It demands that Israel stop such activity and fulfill its obligations as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

In November 2019, Pompeo announced the US was softening its position on Israeli settlements and would no longer abide by a 1978 State Department legal opinion that the settlements were “inconsistent with international law.”

The Palestinian National Council, the legislative body of the PLO, denounced Pompeo’s visit to Psagot as a “dangerous precedent.” In a statement, it described the visit as an “American affront to international resolutions” and called on the international community to condemn “this colonialist visit.”

Hanan Ashrawi, a PLO Executive Committee member, commenting on Pompeo’s visit to Psagot, wrote on Twitter: “Both Pompeo and US Ambassador to Israel [David Friedman] are trespassing on Palestinian land stolen by Israel for its illegal settler-colonial enterprise. You’ve done a lot of damage already. Just go away!”

Hamas also condemned Pompeo’s visit to Psagot and the US decision regarding settlement products.

The decision to label settlement products as “made in Israel” was a “desperate attempt to legalize the settlements,” Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif Qanou said. He accused the Trump administration of “complicity in the occupation’s theft of our land and aggression on our people.”

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