The United States will designate the “cancerous” Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel “anti-Semitic” and immediately begin penalizing groups affiliated with it, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Thursday during a visit to Israel.
“Today I want to make one announcement with respect to a decision by the State Department that we will regard the global anti-Israel BDS campaign as anti-Semitic,” he said in a joint press briefing with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I know this may sound simple to you, Mr. Prime Minister, it seems like a statement of fact, but I want you to know that we will immediately take steps to identify organizations that engage in hateful BDS conduct and withdraw U.S. government support for such groups. The time is right,” Pompeo stated.
Hours later, Pompeo announced that the U.S. will label exports from Jewish settlements as Israeli.
“All producers within areas where Israel exercises the relevant authorities… will be required to mark goods as ‘Israel,’ ’Product of Israel,’ or ‘Made in Israel’ when exporting to the United States,” Pompeo said.
The Obama administration’s guidelines designated that all settlement products be labeled as “Made in West Bank”.
Pompeo on Thursday also became the first secretary of state to ever visit a Jewish settlement.
Until the Trump administration, the U.S. had designated the West Bank and the Golan Heights as “occupied territories.” In January, Pompeo denounced a longstanding State Department legal opinion declaring Jewish settlements in the West Bank to be a violation of international law as “deeply flawed.” Months earlier, he issued a more tempered declaration, stating that the U.S. “no longer recognizes Israeli settlements as per se inconsistent with international law.”
The Psagot winery visit came enroute to the Golan Heights, in another first for a U.S. secretary of state. Last year, President Donald Trump recognized Israeli sovereignty in the Golan.
On Wednesday, after media reports emerged of the planned visit, dozens of Palestinians protested outside the winery and some threw stones at soldiers guarding the area. The radical leftwing Israeli Peace Now group also protested outside the winery as Pompeo arrived in an Israeli military helipcopter.
“It is a blessing to be here in Judea and Samaria,” Pompeo wrote in the Psagot visitor’s book, using the biblical names for the West Bank.
“May I not be the last Secretary of State to visit this beautiful land,” he wrote.
Pompeo also paid a private visit to the Christian baptismal site “Qasr al-Yehud” near Jericho in the West Bank, considered to be Christianity’s third holiest site.
After Pompeo disavowed the Jimmy Carter-era memo deeming settlements illegal, the owner of the Psagot winery named a new series of wine after the secretary of state and sent him a case of the wine.
Pompeo in the past also broke from U.S. policy by addressing the Republican National Convention from Jerusalem. He also became the first top American diplomat to make an official visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
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