Sen. Ben Cardin (L) in Jerusalem with then-President Shimon Peres in Feb. 2012. (Flash90)
Cardin Peres

The US Senate Finance Committee, in a unanimous vote, approved legislation countering economic boycotts of Israel and delegitimization of the Jewish state.

The United States Senate Committee on Finance approved last week a bipartisan amendment to the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation countering the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

Over the past several years, a growing number of countries have sought to isolate and delegitimize Israel through boycotts on Israel’s economy – an initiative promoted by BDS. This amendment uses ongoing trade negotiations to discourage prospective US trade partners from engaging in economic discrimination against Israel.

The amendment, which passed unanimously with a 20-6 vote, would require US trade negotiators to make rejection of BDS a principal objective in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) mediations with the European Union.

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Finance Committee and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as well as one of the authors of the amendment, stated after the bill’s approval: “Israel is one of America’s closest allies and the only stable democracy in the Middle East. We may not agree with every Israeli policy, but we cannot allow our potential trading partners in the European Union (EU) to fall prey to efforts that threaten Israel’s existence. Economic tools and trade agreements have been used throughout world history to move governments and change policy, but when these actions seek to delegitimize a country’s right to exist, we need to draw a line.”


Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), another author of the pro-Israel legislation, welcomed the new legislation, saying, “this amendment sends a clear message that if you want to be an economic partner with the United States, you cannot support politically motivated boycotts of Israel. I’m pleased that it was successfully included in this legislation because it says the United States will not stand with those who attempt to weaken Israel.”

AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee) voiced support for Portman and Cardin, stating in a letter to the senators: “It is essential that this bill include principal negotiating objectives for our trade negotiators in the effort to ensure that European governments both take no action that could impede US-Israel commerce and dismantle existing politically-motivated boycotts against Israel. This would instruct the administration to use the tools at its disposal to push back against such practices during upcoming trade negotiations with Europe.”