The US Senate approved a trade bill that includes measures against European efforts to boycott Israel, and which now goes to President Obama to sign.
The US Congress on Wednesday gave final approval to a measure that could result in punitive measures against European companies that boycott Israel, sending it to President Obama’s table for the final signature.
The measure, which was already approved by the US Senate last month, is part of the large bill called the Trade Act of 2015. Under the bill’s Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), the president would be granted wide leeway to reach a trade deal with the European Union (EU). Congress would get the chance to vote on the deal, but not on its various provisions.
The bill would essentially prevent the US from engaging in free trade with a European trade partner, either the EU itself or a European corporation, so long as it is involved in the boycotting of Israel, potentially barring such entities from submitting bids for government contracts in the US. Moreover, a company that is traded on the US Stock Exchange (or other American market) would need to state whether it has engaged in anti-Israeli activity in Europe.
The BDS (Boycott, Divestment Sanctions) movement amendment discourages actions by potential US trading partners such as the EU that prejudice or discourage trade between the US and Israel, in particular “politically motivated actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel and to seek the elimination of politically motivated non-tariff barriers on Israeli goods, services, or other commerce imposed on the State of Israel.” It also seeks “the elimination of state-sponsored unsanctioned foreign boycotts against Israel or compliance with the Arab League Boycott of Israel by prospective trading partners.”
A Clear Message from the US to the BDS
Congressman Peter Roskam (R-IL), co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus, and one of the authors of the anti BDS legislation said that the passage of this landmark law was a clear US message to those who wish to combat Israel through boycotts.
“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. The recent wave of boycotts originating in Europe, including French telecom company Orange’s decision this month 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. 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 U.S.-Israel relationship.”
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) hailed the Senate’s decision to approve a “strong stand” against the BDS movement.
“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,” said WJC President Ronald Lauder.
Lauder added that “the amendment by Congressman Peter Roskam targeting BDS in the Fast Track legislation approved today throws a wrench in the works of the campaign to boycott Israel. It upholds the principle that those who seek to harm the Jewish state cannot subvert free global commerce for their own perverse political agenda.”
“America’s elected representatives today made it again clear that they stand with Israel and against BDS. This was a good day not just for Israel, but for the United States too.”
By: United by Israel Staff