JERUSALEM, Israel - The US State Department on Wednesday condemned the European Court of Justice's decision to put special labels on all food products imported from West Bank settlement communities.
State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement that the US is "deeply concerned" by the ruling, which will only "encourage, facilitate, and promote boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel."
"The United States unequivocally opposes any effort to engage in BDS, or to otherwise economically pressure, isolate, or otherwise delegitimize Israel. The path toward resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict is through direct negotiations. America stands with Israel against efforts to economically pressure, isolate, or delegitimize it," her statement read.
Several US lawmakers also condemned the court's decision. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) called the ruling "disgraceful" and said it reveals the international community's "obsession with singling out and punishing Israel."
Israeli leaders applauded the United States' response to the ruling.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday evening said the United States' statement demonstrated "moral clarity."
Foreign Minister Israel Katz thanked "our ally the United States for its steadfast and ongoing support."
The decision, which was handed down on Tuesday, insists that all products imported into European Union countries from West Bank settlement communities must have an easily identifiable label and that a simple "Made in Israel" tag is not enough.
Although Israel captured the West Bank (biblical Judea and Samaria) and eastern Jerusalem during the 1967 war, the EU and other members of the international community do not recognize Israel's annexation of those areas. They oppose the settlements and say Israel is violating international law by establishing Jewish communities there.
The ECJ said in a statement Tuesday that settlement communities "give concrete expression to a policy of population transfer conducted by that State outside its territory, in violation of the rules of general international humanitarian law."
NGO Monitor, a pro-Israel organization based in Jerusalem said in a statement that product labeling is "a stepping stone for full-fledged BDS against Israel, particularly in Europe."
"For anti-Israel groups, product labeling is meant as a "gateway drug" towards BDS and other forms of demonization. We have seen these powerful NGOs at work in the short-lived Airbnb boycott, the targeting of Israel in FIFA, the proposed UN discriminatory blacklist, and elsewhere. Product labeling is the next step in demonization," said NGO Monitor Prof. Gerald Steinburg.
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