By DANIELLE ZIRI \11/15/2016
NEW YORK – U.S. Representatives Republican Peter J. Roskam from Illinois and Democrat Juan Vargas from California introduced to the US Congress on Monday the Protecting Israel Against Economic Discrimination Act, a bill aiming to push back against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The bipartisan bill combats attempts by intergovernmental bodies such as the United Nations to engage in “politically-charged economic warfare against Israel.”
It specifically cites the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Agenda item 7 resolution adopted earlier this year, in which over 35 countries attacked Israeli human rights abuses against the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Agenda Item 7 mandated that the UNHRC debate Israeli human rights abuses against the Palestinians during each of its sessions. No other nation has such a standing agenda item. All other human rights abuses around the globe are dealt with under Agenda Item 4.
In May, Reps. Roskam and Vargas, along with Sens. Portman and Cardin, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman urging them to oppose the UNHRC resolution.
“Congress has long combated boycotts and other discriminatory treatment of Israel,” the letter said. “‘Blacklists’ are among the most nefarious, as they serve only to isolate and stigmatize. This new ‘blacklist’ is reminiscent of the Arab League boycott against Israel, and companies dealing with Israel, which for decades was used to strangle Israel’s economy and coerce Israel into unilateral concessions.”
“Any foreign company, including American ones, could be targeted by this effort even if they are conducting completely legal activities under U.S. and international law,” it continued.
The Protecting Israel Against Economic Discrimination Act, the legislators say, “puts Congress on the record opposing the UNHRC resolution and other attempts to economically harm and delegitimize Israel.”
“This legislation also requires the Export-Import Bank to consider BDS activity when evaluating potential applicants. U.S. taxpayer-backed financing should not be available to those who choose to conduct economic warfare against Israel,” the explained in a statement.
The legislators also stressed that the Protecting Israel Against Economic Discrimination Act is “intended to address and counter only acts of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel.”
“Nothing in this Act shall be construed to alter the established policy of the United States concerning final status issues associated with the Arab-Israel conflict, including border delineation that can only be resolved through direct negotiations between the parties,” they stated.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.