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March 25, 2017 1:30 pm

Bipartisan Legislation Seeks to Combat International Supporters of BDS

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A BDS protest. Photo: Takver via Wikimedia Commons. – Republican and Democratic leaders in both chambers of Congress Thursday introduced new legislation to combat international supporters of the BDS movement.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, introduced by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), as well as Reps. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) and Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), seeks to penalize international NGOs and foreign countries that boycott, divest from or sanction Israel for its policies with the Palestinians.

Specifically, the bill opposes recent moves by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to “blacklist” Israeli companies that conduct business in the disputed territories.

If passed, the anti-BDS law would fine violators in accordance with the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, enacted in 1977.

“This bipartisan legislation sends a clear message that politically-motivated boycotts of Israel are unacceptable to the United States,” Portman said in a statement.

Cardin added that the US “should bring its foreign policy and its economic institutions, its relationships, and its leverage to bear to combat boycott, divestment, and sanctions actions against Israel.”

“We should not stand idle when foreign countries or international governmental organizations use BDS tactics to isolate one of our key allies. We cannot allow these attempts to bypass direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to go unchecked,” Cardin said.

Stephen M. Greenberg, chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman and CEO, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said in a statement that the bipartisan legislation “is urgently needed to reinforce our country’s commitment to ensuring that Israel is treated fairly” and to ensure that “attacks on Israel at the UN and by the BDS movement will not succeed.”

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