Friday, August 07, 2020

The US House of Representatives approved a measure Friday that could result in punitive measures against European companies that boycott Israel.

The measure, which was already approved by the US Senate last month, is part of the large bill called the Trade Act of 2015 that is set to arrive at the president’s desk in the near future. Under the bill’s Trade Promotion Authority, the president would be granted wide leeway to conclude a trade deal with the European Union. Congress would get the chance to vote on the deal but not on its various provisions.

The bill would essentially prevent the US from engaging in free trade with a European trade partner (either the EU itself or a European corporation) so long as it is involved in the boycotting of Israel, potentially barring such entities from submitting bids for government contracts in the US. Moreover, a company that is traded in the US stock exchange (or other American capital markets) would have to state whether it has engaged in anti-Israeli activity in Europe and provide a full account of its relations with the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.

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The TPA’s final passage is contingent on the approval of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act of 2015, whose fate is in limbo because of an internal divide among House Democrats.

The pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has voiced its support for the anti-boycott language of the bill as [has] former Israeli Ambassador to the US and current Kulanu MK Michael Oren, who was among its early backers. On Saturday, Oren said that the measure was proof that “one can take a proactive stance against the boycotts and the BDS movement.” He added that upon final passage, European companies would be deterred from boycotting Israel.

By Erez Linn and Shlomo Cesana/Israel HaYom

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