The year-plus long effort by AIPAC and some of their BFFs in Congress to officially change US policy on Israeli settlements has finally reached the President's desk. The so-called "Customs Bill" (H.R. 644) included a much-discussed provision that extends protection guarantees to Israel and "Israeli controlled territories." It is a thinly veiled - but stupidly successful - attempt to change longstanding US policy that holds the entire territory of the West Bank in clear distinction from Israel proper. Since the massive Customs Bill has been a major priority for the Obama Administration - it will inevitably be signed into law, green-line-erasing language and all. But props to the White House for not throwing the baby out with the bath water. The White House immediately issued a pretty solid press statement, and then State Department Spokesman John Kirby elaborated on it when he said the US would not "pursue policies or activities that would legitimize" settlements. But since the language is in the bill, and the bill will be passed, we are rooting for more than a press clip; we need a Presidential signing statement saying that the provision will not be implemented. This White House rebuke comes on the heels of yet another loss for the pro-settlement hawks. Earlier this month, the US Trade Authority found it incumbent upon them to "clarify" existing law that stipulates that goods made in the illegal Israeli settlements cannot by labelled "Made in Israel." Since the Obama Administration has been unsuccessful in stopping actual settlement growth, we'll applaud them for stopping the growth of settlement legitimization in the US. 

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