Diplomacy

Senate to Call for Rejecting Anti-Israel Boycotts as Part of Historic EU Trade Bill

The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved an amendment to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a landmark trade agreement with the European Union, that would make discouraging anti-Israel boycotts a “principal objective” of American trade representatives with Europe, The Times of Israel reported yesterday.

The amendment to the authorization for negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will add the discouragement of BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) actions as a principal objective for US envoys in the talks with Europe.

The committee voted in a roll-call vote to approve the amendment stating that the “principal negotiating objectives of the United States regarding commercial partnerships” include to “discourage actions by potential trading partners that directly or indirectly prejudice or otherwise discourage commercial activity solely between the United States and Israel” as well as “discourage 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.” The US would also “seek the elimination of state-sponsored unsanctioned foreign boycotts against Israel or compliance with the Arab League Boycott of Israel by prospective trading partners.” …

The amendment only applies to the TTIP negotiations with Europe, and not the companion Trans-Pacific Partnership talks — a response, sponsors say, to a tide of BDS-related initiatives in the European countries with which the US hopes to negotiate a historic agreement.

The amendment, which was introduced by Sen. Rob Portman (R – Ohio) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D – Md.), enjoys bipartisan support. After passage of the amendment, Portman said, “This amendment sends a clear message that if you want to be an economic partner with the United States, you cannot support politically motivated boycotts of Israel. I’m pleased that it was successfully included in this legislation because it says the United States will not stand with those who attempt to weaken Israel.”

The House of Representatives is expected to pass similar legislation sponsored by Rep. Pete Roskam (R – Ill.) and Rep. Juan Vargas (D. – Calif) “in the coming days.”

[Photo: SenRobPortman / YouTube ]