Council for the National Interest

Fast-track trade bill requires US to object to boycotts of Israel, could hurt dealings with Europe

Jun 26 2015 / 3:28 pm
…“discouraging” Israel boycotts would become one of the “principal negotiating objectives” of U.S. officials in bill just passed by both chambers of Congress… The bill’s passage could compromise trade dealings with Europe… AIPAC pushed inclusion of the language…

JTA, “Congress writes boycott opposition into trade talks” Congress included a provision in a trade bill that requires U.S. negotiators to raise objections to Israel boycotts in their dealings.

The language, part of a broad Trade Promotion Authority passed by both chambers of Congress, says that “discouraging” Israel boycotts would become one of the “principal negotiating objectives” of U.S. officials.

“The provision included by Congress pushes back against actions by foreign governments to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which strongly backed the inclusion of the language, said in a statement Wednesday, the day the Senate approved the trade bill.

The bill “urges the U.S. Trade Representative to seek the elimination of politically-motivated economic attacks on Israel by America’s free trade partners,” AIPAC said, praising its lead sponsors, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and U.S. Reps. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) and Juan Vargas (D-Calif.).

The language explicitly includes “persons doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories” as illegitimate targets for boycotts.

The bill’s passage could compromise trade dealings with Europe, where most countries have banned boycotts of Israel within its 1967 lines but have regulations restricting trade with Israeli businesses in the West Bank.

President Barack Obama has said he will sign the bill. He sought the Trade Promotion Authority, a bill that requires Congress to approve or reject trade pacts without amendments, in order to facilitate planned trade deals with Europe.

RELATED STORY: Landmark anti-BDS law passes final Senate legislative hurdle

…..The anti-BDS provisions in the trade authorization were directed toward free trade talks between the US and the European Union. The provisions require US negotiators to make rejection of BDS a principal trade objective in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations with the European Union. These guidelines, sponsors hope, will discourage European governments from participating in BDS activities by leveraging the incentive of free trade with the US.

“Today, for the first time in nearly four decades, Congress sent legislation to the President’s desk to combat efforts to isolate and delegitimize the State of Israel,” wrote Roskam in a statement released shortly after the Senate vote. “The recent wave of boycotts originating in Europe, including French telecom company Orange’s decision last week to sever ties with Israel, demands a robust response from the United States. This is that response. The bipartisan TPA provisions I authored are simple: if you want free trade with the United States, you can’t boycott Israel.”

“After today, discouraging economic warfare against Israel will be central to our free trade negotiations with the European Union,” he continued. “Congress will not be complicit in the marginalization of our ally Israel by watching these attacks from the sidelines. Instead, we have decided to fight back against the BDS movement and ensure the continued strength of the US-Israel relationship.”

Shortly after its passage, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) also lauded the inclusion of the anti-BDS legislation in the fast-track trade bill.

“The Senate today took a strong stand against the growing vilification of Israel. American values such as freedom and openness have triumphed over the blatant hypocrisy and bias of the anti-Israel campaigners. This vote marks a major defeat for BDS,” wrote WJC President Ronald S. Lauder.


PHOTO: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., raises his hand as he and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., walk on-stage to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, Sunday, March 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Posted by on Jun 26 2015 . Filed under Boycott Divestment & Sanctions, Commentary & Analysis, Costs to the U.S., Featured articles, Israel Lobby, Israeli/Jewish Press, Recent Legislation . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 . Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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