White House takes issue with wording of recently passed Congressional trade legislation, stating the anti-BDS amendment “runs counter to long-standing U.S. policy” toward disputed territories claimed by the Palestinian Arabs.
One day after U.S. President Barack Obama signed hard-fought trade legislation, his administration took issue with language meant to discourage boycotts of Israel.
The “fast-track” trade bill takes aim at boycott efforts against Israel. A bipartisan amendment — which drew comparatively little attention in Congress’ long, multifaceted trade debate — instructs U.S. negotiators to resist other countries’ actions that support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel because of its policies in “Israeli-controlled territories.”
Several pro-Israel groups and lawmakers backed the amendment.
But the State Department said Tuesday that “by conflating Israel and ‘Israeli-controlled territories,'” the amendment “runs counter to long-standing U.S. policy” toward disputed territories claimed by Palestinians.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said U.S. policy has “strongly opposed boycotts, divestment campaigns and sanctions targeting the State of Israel, and will continue to do so.” However, Kirby noted, both Democratic and Republican presidents have consistently opposed Israeli settlement activity in Judea and Samaria.
Kirby said the government “does not pursue policies or activities that would legitimize them [settlements].”
A spokeswoman for Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, a key sponsor of the amendment, said it was never intended to make a judgment on Israeli settlements.
The fast-track bill will allow Obama to present proposed trade deals that Congress can ratify or reject, but not change.
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=26565