WASHINGTON – One day after 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 international efforts to punish Israel economically for its treatment of Palestinians. A bipartisan amendment – which drew comparatively little attention in Congress’ long, multi-faceted trade debate – instructs US negotiators
to resist other countries’ actions that support the “boycott, divestment and sanctions” movement against Israel because of its policies in “Israeli-controlled territories.” But the State Department said Tuesday that “by conflating Israel and ‘Israeli-controlled territories,'” the amendment “runs counter to longstanding US policy” toward the disputed territories claimed by Palestinians. The statement, by spokesman John Kirby, said US policy has “strongly opposed boycotts, divestment campaigns, and sanctions targeting the State of Israel, and will continue to do so.” But Kirby said Democratic and Republican presidents have consistently opposed Israeli settlements that violated borders drawn in 1967.