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Illinois Bill Barring Investment of State Funds in Companies Boycotting Israel Moves Forward

A bill prohibiting the Illinois state pension fund from investing in companies that boycott Israel won unanimous approval in a State House of Representatives committee and will move forward for consideration by the whole house, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported today.

The bill on Wednesday was unanimously approved by the Illinois State House of Representatives Executive Committee by a vote of 10-0 and will now move forward for a vote by the full chamber. It previously passed the Illinois State Senate unanimously, 49-0.

The bill requires the state’s pension system to remove companies that boycott Israel from their portfolios. The bill, an amendment, is based on existing legislation that the Illinois Investment Policy Board currently enforces, mandating that state pension funds be divested from foreign firms doing business in Iran, Sudan or other countries with known human rights violations.

In a statement, B’nai B’rith International said it “applauds Illinois citizens and their representatives for taking such a strong stance against a movement rooted in anti-Semitism that ultimately impedes the peace process by opposing constructive dialogue between Israel and Palestinians.”

JTA also noted that Indiana and Tennessee have passed similar non-binding bills.

At the national level, both the United States House of Representatives and Senate are working on legislation that would make a free trade agreement with the European Union contingent on rejecting boycotts of Israel.

[Photo: Jim Bowen / Flickr ]