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US OK with EU labeling rule for settlement goods

The Obama administration says it doesn’t consider a new European Union rule outlawing “Made in Israel” tags on goods from the West Bank as a boycott of the Jewish state, only a technical guideline for consumers.

The US clarification of its position comes a day after the decision by the EU, which applies to goods produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

“We do not believe that labeling the origin of products is equivalent to a boycott,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner says. “And as you know, we do not consider settlements to be part of Israel. We do not view labeling the origin of products as being from the settlements as a boycott of Israel.”

Before the EU acted, the US position was more ambiguous. Toner and other officials stressed only that Washington opposed any boycotting of Israel, while saying the EU’s response “shouldn’t come as a surprise” given Israel’s continued construction of settlements on land the Palestinians seek for their future state.

“We understand the objective is to provide EU consumers correct information on the origin of products, as required by EU law,” Toner says. “The EU has made clear that measures are not a boycott, and the EU has also made very clear that they oppose boycotts against Israel. EU guidelines for products that are sold in EU countries are for the EU to determine.”

— AP contributed

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