US Congress marks Israel's birthday with action against EU boycott efforts

"I strongly support free trade negotiations with the EU, but we must also confront the disturbing, rising tide of BDS activity from countries across Europe," Illinois lawmaker says.

April 25, 2015 18:18
1 minute read.
United States Capitol building in Washington, DC

United States Capitol building in Washington, DC.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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WASHINGTON – Both chambers of Congress marked Israel’s 67th Independence Day with action against efforts to boycott the state.

One day before the anniversary, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously agreed to attach an amendment to a bill that would “fast track” US President Barack Obama’s trade negotiations with Europe, which suggests any trade deal should discourage the EU from promoting boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

Fast-track authority allows the US president to negotiate trade agreements that still require the approval of Congress, but that Congress cannot amend.

Another Senate amendment passed a week ago would require the executive to report the participation of foreign companies in BDS activities.

“We may not agree with every Israeli policy, but we cannot allow our potential trading partners in the EU to fall prey to efforts that threaten Israel’s existence,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), a member of the finance committee and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “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.”

The provisions were supported by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which praised their passage in a press release over the weekend.

AIPAC also involved itself in identical action from the House of Representatives, where the Ways and Means Committee on Friday passed the fast track legislation for the president with the same amendment.

“I strongly support free trade negotiations with the EU, but we must also confront the disturbing, rising tide of BDS activity from countries across Europe,” said Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Illinois), who introduced the provision. “This measure will make combating these boycotts a principal trade objective of the United States in our negotiations with the EU and send a clear message that countries seeking free trade with the United States cannot participate in politically motivated economic warfare against Israel.”

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