US State Department spokesperson Jeff Rathke did his best on Tuesday to avoid directly answering a question about the European Union's (EU) revived plan to force Israel to label products from Judea and Samaria, as part of a boycott move to economically harm the Jewish state.
Associated Press reporter Matt Lee repeatedly tried to get Rathke to comment on the renewed EU labeling effort, which was revealed on Tuesday, but Rathke stated that the US refuses to take a position on the matter.
Responding to Lee's questions, Rathke said, "it’s my understanding this is something that is still under discussion, so I would refer you to the EU and the European Commission for any details. Since it remains an internal matter for the European Union, I’m not going to speculate about that while it remains under discussion internally."
Lee didn't let the matter go so easily, responding, "I’m not quite sure I understand that. So you don’t have any position on whether goods and products made/produced in settlements in the West Bank should labeled or should not be labeled as coming from there?"
Rathke continued to refuse to take a position, at which Lee said, "the administration’s view is that it won’t take a position on this until after it’s too late. I mean, isn’t it precisely during the time that something is under consideration that you would want to weigh in to have your voice heard if you have a position?"
But Rathke would not be drawn into giving an answer. Lee then asked if the labeling is viewed by the US as a similar move to boycotts against Israel, which the administration has in the post vocally opposed.
Rathke reiterated that the US opposes boycotts targeting the Jewish state, but again avidly refused to make a statement on the labeling issue.
Aside from threatening to label goods from Judea and Samaria, the EU also has a list of sanctions prepared to be launched in a diplomatic offensive against Israel as soon as the Iran nuclear deal is off the docket, according to senior US officials.
The sanctions are meant to force Israel into peace process concessions, and sources revealed that US President Barack Obama's threat made in an Israeli interview this month, according to which he may cut US support for Israel at the UN, specifically was referring to the EU sanctions list.