In a rare instance, even Obama’s party members believe he has gone too far in his seeming anti-Israel stance.
Senate Democrats have opened a rare public feud with President Barack Obama over a congressional effort to discourage America’s trading partners from targeting Israel with politically motivated boycotts and sanctions.
Minority Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats voiced their objections to Obama’s decision not to implement provisions in a trade law that instructs US negotiators to protect Israel from being punished economically by countries supporting anti-Israel organizations and operations.
Specifically, the provision instructs US negotiators to resist other countries’ actions that support the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. The senators said the movement tracks with growing anti-Semitism around the world.
Obama is opposed to the boycott movement and has pledged to fight it “as long as I am president.”
But his administration took issue with part of the bill that it said conflates Israel with “Israeli-controlled territories.” That’s a reference to Judea and Samaria, the home of some 400,000 Israelis.
The Obama administration considers Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria to be illegitimate, and the White House said the language lumping Israel and the Palestinian territories together contradicts US policy toward the Israeli communities.
In a signing statement Obama issued Wednesday, he said he intended to interpret the law “in a manner that does not interfere with my constitutional authority to conduct diplomacy.”
But the senators said the White House has mischaracterized the provisions as making a US policy statement about Israeli settlements. “This simply is not the case,” they said. The provisions are aimed at countering “commercial actions aimed at delegitimizing Israel and pressuring Israel into unilateral concessions outside the bounds of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations,” according to the senators.
Reid was joined in the statement on Thursday by Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
By: AP and United with Israel Staff