The White House has announced it is partially unhappy with the new bipartisan bill, Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. They like the bill in general, they say, as the W.H. Press Secretary put it in a statement: “We are pleased the Senate passed the bipartisan Customs conference report because it will provide additional tools to help crack down on unfair competition by trading partners and foreign companies that put our workers and businesses at a disadvantage.” However, there’s this one portion they really dislike:
“…there are provisions in this bill that we do not support, including a provision that contravenes longstanding US policy towards Israel and the occupied territories, including with regard to Israeli settlement activity.”
Here’s what the new trade bill has to say about that last, unpleasant Jewish settlements part (abbreviated, because it’s Friday and you need to go shopping for Shabbat). But if you’re really in a hurry, the part Obama et al loath the most is hidden way down there, in item (b) (7), which declares that Congress
“supports efforts to prevent investigations or prosecutions by governments or international organizations of United States persons solely on the basis of such persons doing business with Israel, with Israeli entities, or in any territory controlled by Israel.”
Here’s the rest of the segment that generated so much pain over at 1600 Pennsylvania Av.:
SEC. 909. United States-Israel trade and commercial enhancement.
(a) Findings.—Congress finds the following:
(6) It has been the policy of the United States Government to combat all elements of the Arab League Boycott of Israel by—
(A) public statements of Administration officials;
(B) enactment of relevant sections of the Export Administration Act of 1979 … including sections to ensure foreign persons comply with applicable reporting requirements relating to the Boycott;
(C) enactment of the Tax Reform Act of 1976 (Public Law 94–455; 90 Stat. 1520) that denies certain tax benefits to entities abiding by the Boycott;
(D) ensuring through free trade agreements with Bahrain and Oman that such countries no longer participate in the Boycott; and
(E) ensuring as a condition of membership in the World Trade Organization that Saudi Arabia no longer enforces the secondary or tertiary elements of the Boycott.
(b) Statements of policy.—Congress—
(1) supports the strengthening of economic cooperation between the United States and Israel and recognizes the tremendous strategic, economic, and technological value of cooperation with Israel;
(2) recognizes the benefit of cooperation with Israel to United States companies, including by improving American competitiveness in global markets;
(3) recognizes the importance of trade and commercial relations to the pursuit and sustainability of peace, and supports efforts to bring together the United States, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and others in enhanced commerce;
(4) opposes politically motivated actions that penalize or otherwise limit commercial relations specifically with Israel, such as boycotts of, divestment from, or sanctions against Israel;
(5) notes that boycotts of, divestment from, and sanctions against Israel by governments, governmental bodies, quasi-governmental bodies, international organizations, and other such entities are contrary to principle of nondiscrimination under the GATT 1994…;
(6) encourages the inclusion of politically motivated actions that penalize or otherwise limit commercial relations specifically with Israel such as boycotts of, divestment from, or sanctions against Israel as a topic of discussion at the U.S.-Israel Joint Economic Development Group (JEDG) to support the strengthening of the United States-Israel commercial relationship and combat any commercial discrimination against Israel; and
(7) supports efforts to prevent investigations or prosecutions by governments or international organizations of United States persons solely on the basis of such persons doing business with Israel, with Israeli entities, or in any territory controlled by Israel.
(c) Principal trade negotiating objectives of the United States.—
(1) COMMERCIAL PARTNERSHIPS.—Among the principal trade negotiating objectives of the United States for proposed trade agreements with foreign countries regarding commercial partnerships are the following:
(A) To discourage actions by potential trading partners that directly or indirectly prejudice or otherwise discourage commercial activity solely between the United States and Israel.
(B) To discourage politically motivated boycotts of, divestment from, and sanctions against Israel and to seek the elimination of politically motivated nontariff barriers on Israeli goods, services, or other commerce imposed on Israel.
(C) To seek the elimination of state-sponsored unsanctioned foreign boycotts of Israel, or compliance with the Arab League Boycott of Israel, by prospective trading partners.
One senior congressional aide who works on this legislation told the Washington Free Beacon they were surprised at the administration’s statement, saying that it goes out of its way to single out Israel.
“This administration never misses an opportunity to take a swipe at Israel—even if it means criticizing bipartisan anti-BDS measures passed unanimously in the House and Senate,” the source said. “Don’t fall for any White House doublespeak: Opposing efforts to combat BDS equates to supporting BDS. That’s why history will show that President Obama actively advanced a movement solely aimed at delegitimizing the State of Israel.”
You’re not kidding.