TEL AVIV – The latest batch of 550 Hillary Clinton emails released on Saturday by the State Department solves a mystery that has perplexed watchers of both the Jewish state and the former secretary of state’s dispatches.
The subject line stated only: “Gefilte fish.” The text read simply: “Where are we on this?”
That message was sent from Clinton to top aide Jake Sullivan, and Former Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs Richard Verma.
Gefilte fish, as Wikipedia helpfully relates, is “an Ashkenazi Jewish dish made from a poached mixture of ground deboned fish, such as carp, whitefish, or pike, which is typically eaten as an appetizer.”
An email dated March 5, 2010 and released on Saturday details Clinton’s inquiry and the fishy subject matter at hand.
The matter involved American carp shipments stuck at Israel’s Haifa port due to an Israeli decision to reverse a longstanding trade policy of not enforcing tariffs on U.S. carp.
The email from Verma to Clinton and Sullivan provided the following summary of the gefilte fish issue:
- On the narrow issue of whether the Israelis will allow the two containers being held at customs in Haifa to be admitted duty-free, we are making progress. The Israelis have committed to try to find a work-around, although they claim it’s somewhat complicated legally, and we are hopeful that will be resolved in the coming days.
- On the larger issue of the remaining 7 containers still in the U.S. and waiting to be shipped, as well as future shipments, it is much more difficult and more complicated because Israel has the legal right to impose the duties under our existing bilateral trade and economic agreements. We need USTR to get engaged, and U/S Hormats placed a call to the Deputy USTR this morning to request their engagement.
- Meanwhile, Rep. Manzullo is appreciative of the work we’re doing to free up the two containers stuck in Haifa, but is still concerned about the remaining seven containers and the longer-term issue. Of note, Rep. Weiner has become engaged on this issue as well, and co-wrote a letter with Manzullo to the Israeli ambassador last week urging Israel to reverse its decision to impose duties on U.S. carp.
Also provided was the following background:
According to our 2004 Agreement on Trade in Agriculture Products (ATAP) with Israel, which is negotiated separately from our bilateral free-trade agreement (our FTA with Israel does not include agriculture products). Israel is able to impose tariffs on carp. Israel had not been enforcing this duty in the past due to a technical mistake: Carp was not specifically listed on any of the lists in the ATAP and had slipped by customs in the past; however, the ATAP states that any product not specifically listed in the agreement’s annexes can be imported at a tariff rate no greater than ninety percent of the rate applied to imports of that good from other countries.
Israeli domestic fisheries raised this oversight to the attention of GOI officials last Fall, prompting its enforcement for the first time this year. Legally, in other words, we’re in a difficult place.
It’s still unclear what’s in the realm of the possible diplomatically, but since USTR has the lead on enforcement and possible renegotiation of our existing trade/economic agreements, U/S Hormats engaged today with USTR; we’re still waiting on a readout from that conversation.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.