Ten weeks before the handover, United States President Donald Trump gives Israel a final gift. The United States will label Israeli exports from the occupied West Bank as coming directly from Israel, said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who became the first US foreign minister to visit an Israeli settlement on Thursday (November 19th).
“All producers in areas where Israel exercises its authority […] will have to write “Israel”, “Made in Israel” or “Made in Israel” on their products when they export to the United States, ”said Mike Pompeo in a statement, shortly after his visit to the Israeli vineyard of Psagot located in a colony in the West Bank.
The Israeli-Palestinian Oslo accords in the 1990s divided the West Bank, a Palestinian territory occupied by Israel, into three zones (A, B and C). The first two make up 40% of the territory and are placed mainly under Palestinian control. Zone C (60%) is under Israeli military and civilian control, but with the idea of a planned transfer, and to be defined, to the Palestinians during a final peace agreement, according to these same agreements.
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A “disputed” territory
For Israel, “Zone C”, the site of most of the agricultural Jordan Valley and all the settlements, cannot be considered “Palestinian” territory, but “disputed”, since no agreement is intervened again to seal a final peace between Palestinians and Israelis.
The new US approach “recognizes that Zone C producers operate under Israel’s administrative and legal framework and that their products should be treated as such,” said Mike Pompeo. This change thus seems to imply that the products, for example, of Palestinian farmers living in “zone C” will fall under the label “Israel”.
Visit the Golan Heights
Under a senior military escort, the head of US diplomacy visited the Golan Heights on Thursday afternoon, a strategic area taken by Israel from Syria during the Six Day War in 1967.
Last year, US President Donald Trump made the United States the first country to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over this plateau, where 25,000 Israeli settlers live alongside some 23,000 Druze who claim to be mostly Syrians. by having the status of residents in Israel. “It is a part of Israel, and a central part of Israel,” insisted Mike Pompeo on the spot.
Before traveling to this other wine region, he had already received a bottle of wine named in his honor at the Israeli Psagot vineyard in a settlement in the occupied West Bank.
“Settlements can be legal”
Israeli colonization has boomed in recent years under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and since the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House. More than 450,000 Israelis live in settlements, deemed illegal under international law, in the West Bank, where approximately 2.8 million Palestinians live.
A year ago, Mike Pompeo decreed that these settlements were no longer, according to Washington, contrary to international law. “For a long time the State Department took the wrong approach on the settlements. […] Today, he vigorously defends the recognition that settlements can be legal, ”he reiterated Thursday.
“Pompeo’s visit is a provocative step before the end of the mandate of the Trump administration and a flagrant violation of the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic”, reacted the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement released by the state news agency Sana.