The Obama administration was quick to clarify that the anti-BDS amendment in the recently signed trade bill does not pertain to Israeli businesses in Judea and Samaria.
President Barack Obama signed into law on Tuesday a trade bill that included legislation combating the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Europe, but the State Department was quick to clarify that the measure does not pertain to businesses operating in Judea and Samaria.
Only one day after Obama signed hard-fought trade legislation, his administration took issue with language meant to discourage boycotts of Israel.
The “fast track” trade bill takes aim at international efforts to boycott Israel economically.
A bipartisan amendment — which drew comparatively little attention in Congress’ long, multi-faceted trade debate — instructs US negotiators to resist other countries’ actions that support the BDS movement against Israel.
Several pro-Israel groups and lawmakers backed the amendment.
State Department spokesman John Kirby wrote Tuesday that “by conflating Israel and ‘Israeli-controlled territories,’” the measure “runs counter to longstanding US policy towards the occupied territories, including with regard to settlement activity.”
“Every US administration since 1967 – Democrat and Republican alike – has opposed Israeli settlement activity beyond the 1967 lines. This administration is no different,” Kirby stated. “The US government has never defended or supported Israeli settlements and activity associated with them and, by extension, does not pursue policies or activities that would legitimize them.”
A spokeswoman for Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a key sponsor of the amendment, said it was never intended to make a judgment on the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.
In a statement Tuesday, Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), another author of the amendment, defended the measure, saying: “The language in our amendment, which was adopted unanimously by the Senate Finance Committee and the Ways and Means Committee, does nothing to prejudge the final borders of a negotiated agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Boycotts against Israel in any form are wrong and antithetical to US efforts toward peace.”
By: AP and United with Israel Staff