Diplomacy

New Bipartisan Bill Hinges EU Trade Agreement on Rejection of Anti-Israel Boycotts

A bipartisan bill was introduced to the House of Representatives yesterday that would make the largest free trade agreement in history, between the United States and the European Union, contingent on the EU rejecting the anti-Israel boycott movement.

The Times of Israel reports:

The bill, which has been worked on for over six months, does not authorize any sort of federal response to domestic BDS initiatives, but rather would use free trade negotiations to discourage foreign and international institutions from supporting initiatives to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel.

The bill’s sponsors have their eyes on the ongoing negotiations to create a free trade agreement between the US and EU – an agreement that proponents say will be the largest free trade deal in history.

The Times explained the means by which the bill could affect the trade negotiations with Europe.

In order for the free-trade deal with the EU to be brought to fruition, Congress must pass the Trade Protection Authority, which enables the president to negotiate free trade deals. The TPA comes with a series of major objectives for negotiations – and the bill’s sponsors hope to include rejection of BDS as one of them.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Pete Roskam (R-Ill.) and Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.). Roskam described the bill as “as one piece of a puzzle” in fighting against he anti-Israel boycott movement.

In a statement released yesterday, Roskam said:

The historic alliance between the United States and Israel is rooted in shared moral standards, mutual strategic interests, and a commitment to confronting common enemies wherever they may surface. Today, an alarming number of countries within the European Union and beyond have embraced BDS as a form of economic warfare aimed to cripple Israel’s economy and demonize its very existence. These attacks not only threaten Israel, but commercial relations across the globe. The U.S-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act will ensure that American free trade partners never engage in this harmful and illegitimate political protest against Israel, while also protecting U.S. companies from foreign lawsuits targeting their associations with Israel. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Congressman Vargas. Although we hail from different political parties, we share a common belief that a strong and prosperous Israel is a necessity for the United States. Congress has always been the bedrock of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and we have an historic opportunity before us to once again reaffirm the mutually beneficial ties that bind our great nations.

Vargas added:

BDS is a harmful political tactic which seeks to undermine and diminish Israel’s economic strength. We need to reassure our commitment to our ally in the region by clearly defining U.S. policy to oppose this practice and dissuade other nations from adopting BDS policies toward Israel.

[Photo: Rep. Juan Vargas / YouTube ]