There are two ways to interpret the Biden administration’s impending move that would require goods produced in the West Bank to be labeled as such. The first is to take it at face value. The Financial Times writes:

The Biden administration is drawing up plans to require goods produced in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank to be clearly labelled as coming from there, according to US officials, another sign of White House unhappiness with the government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

The final go-ahead for the move, and its timing, have not been decided but it is intended to increase pressure on Israel over rising settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, and comes amid US frustration with the Jewish state’s conduct of the war in Gaza.

Well, those are two different things. But the fact that they are tied in most news reports indicates that President Biden wants the public to interpret it as part of his new policy of staying angry at Bibi all the time.

According to the FT, the administration wanted to announce the labeling of Jewish goods last month, but ran into a scheduling conflict: Biden decided to abstain from a lopsided Gaza resolution at the UN, so he waited a bit to hit Israel again.

President George H.W. Bush famously read a note from his staff as if it were part of his remarks to the press—“Message: I care.” Biden might just be better off heading to the microphone and saying “Message: Bibi bad.” The slapdash way the president has been just tossing whatever he can reach at the Israeli prime minister’s head doesn’t exactly scream “I have a plan.” He’s starting to sound like the old Arab autocrats who would distract from their problems on the home front by pointing at Israel, yelling and stomping their feet until the public simply followed.

This would be the second time in recent months that Biden took direct action against Jews who live over the green line. In February, the president sanctioned violent West Bank settlers to back up his administration’s renewed push for a Palestinian state. This time, however, the affected residents wouldn’t be lawbreakers or government agencies but simply individuals guilty of the crime of living on land while not being Arab.

As I wrote in February, there were problems with the order creating the sanctions against the violent settlers too, mostly because the language characterized any confrontation, even a nonviolent one, between Arab and Jew in the West Bank as an international incident that triggers a material American response. More, it would not be categorized as such if the offending party in the incident were Arab, only if they were Jewish. It’s as if the West Bank were governed not by the Palestinian Authority but by Columbia University. The relabeling of goods, meanwhile, is pettier than this one but almost surely more legally defensible.

Either way, it’s all intended to send a message, not to advance the cause of peace. What is that message? Is it the above—that every hour on the hour the president must snarl at the Israeli prime minister or his base will remember how angry it is at him?

I suspect the real reason is less juvenile, but still paints the president into a corner. Biden has spent recent days and weeks making concessions to Hamas and its Iranian masters and pushing Israel to do the same. Yet the official policy of the United States is that Gaza and the West Bank will be run by the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas. Why should the terrorists of Hamas be rewarded and the PA go ignored? It’s a good question that this anti-settlement move is probably designed to answer.

But allow me to propose another way to settle that problem. Instead of rewarding the PA because we rewarded Hamas, we should just not reward Hamas in the first place.

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