Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller announced a trade agreement Wednesday between the state and a group of settlers on the West Bank of Israel. Neither the U.S. government nor the United Nations recognizes the settlements.
Texas Tribune reporter Jim Malewitz says Miller’s move was intentionally provocative.
“Sid Miller told me that he was basically trying to send a political message,” Malewitz says. “He’s been very bullish on this idea of one united Israel, which would include settlements on the West Bank. And he decided to go over and sign this deal – a cooperation agreement with the Shomron Regional Council.”
Though the West Bank settlers’ group isn’t recognized by the U.S. government, Miller’s action, though unusual, may not raise specific legal issues for Texas.
“It’s really not clear what the international legal implications are,” Malewitz says. “According to the experts I’ve talked to, this is one of those agreements that would normally seem routine. There’s not much to it…Texas isn’t agreeing to anything specific. So it’s not clear if any international law was breached. But it certainly is sending a message.”
Malewitz says Texas could export products like beef to the West Bank region, but that Miller envisions an exchange of technology, too.
“Israel and some of the surrounding regions are known for their irrigation technology,” Malewitz says. “[Miller] had seen some drone technology for monitoring fields that wasn’t in use in Texas. So he’s very excited about the prospect of learning lots from that whole region.”
Other Texas elected officials have remained silent about the trade deal, not responding to Malewitz’ requests for comment.
“It appears that he is doing it entirely solo,” he says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.