Congress tightens scrutiny of Israel boycotters

New bill's primary aim is to reform the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

Israel Boycott office (photo credit: AP [file])
Israel Boycott office
(photo credit: AP [file])
The US Congress recently passed a bill containing a provision that places foreign entities which enforce the Arab League boycott of Israel under greater legislative scrutiny, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The Foreign Investment and National Security Act of 2007, which was initiated by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from New York who chairs the House Subcommittee on Financial Institutions, received bipartisan support and was signed into law by President George W. Bush late last month. Its primary aim is to reform the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an inter-agency team chaired by the Treasury Secretary which monitors foreign investment in America. The CFIUS was at the center of a political firestorm in Washington early last year, after it approved the sale of six major US ports to a firm owned by the Arab gulf state of Dubai. The sale was later nixed under public and congressional pressure. The new law contains language, initiated by California Democrat Rep. Brad Sherman, requiring the secretaries of state, commerce and treasury to report to Congress on investments in the US by "foreign governments, entities controlled by or acting on behalf of a foreign government, or persons of foreign countries which comply with any boycott of Israel." In an interview with the Post, Maloney said she was confident the bill would have an important impact. "The new reforms I helped put in place now require the committee to report to Congress on a regular basis," Maloney said. "The CFIUS process will remain confidential, but Congress will now have more information and greater oversight. If a firm is enforcing the anti-Israel boycott, that will come out and we'll know about it." The change came in part as a result of a report in a February 2006 issue of The Jerusalem Post that first revealed that the government-owned Dubai Ports World, which was slated to acquire the six US ports in question, actively enforced the trade embargo against Israel.