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Obama winks at BDS

119418260President Obama with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year at the White House. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

You thought the Obama administration’s hostility toward Israel could not get more egregious? Think again:

The US State Department backed away Tuesday from controversial language included in the anti-BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama a day earlier, indicating official discomfort with a clause that critics say intentionally blurs the lines between Israel and the West Bank. . . . At the same time, the State Department spokesperson emphasized that the State Department’s concerns with the law did not have implications for its stance in opposition to the BDS movement.

This doubletalk follows complaints from habitually critical leftwing groups that seem to have no problem bullying Israel into giving up the settlements. And it is not clear whether the administration is going to ignore another law it does not like.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) who co-authored the provision was irate. “The State Department’s comments cast doubt on its true commitment to achieving a sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians through direct negotiations—which has been and remains U.S. policy,” he said in a written statement. “Instead, by imposing territorial distinctions, State is prejudging the outcome of the peace process. Our language reflects the reality that those who seek to destroy the Jewish state through the BDS movement do not distinguish between Israel and its territories.” He reminded the White House: ” These measures, which the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative publicly supported before the Ways and Means Committee in April, were unanimously adopted in the House and Senate. We expect the Administration to fully comply with the provisions mandated by Congress and signed into law by President Obama himself just a few days ago.”

Genuinely pro-Israel advocates are furious over the White House’s double-cross. A representative from one pro-Israel group tells me, “It is simply not possible to make a differentiation between territorial-specific boycotts without pre-judging the outcome of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. All BDS is bad BDS.” The representative continued, “To suggest that this provision is about anything more than fighting BDS is a malicious misinterpretation of the clear and unambiguous intent of the law.”


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