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US to sign anti-boycott trade bill

The White House announced on Thursday that President Barack Obama will sign a trade bill despite it containing a provision that lumps together Israel and “Israeli-controlled territories”.

“Such language, meaning that the bill is applicable to Israel and the settlements, contravenes longstanding US policy towards Israel and the occupied territories, including with regard to Israeli settlement activity,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement.

The legislation, The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, is part of a package that was presented to the US Congress last summer.

The bill includes a clause that addresses politically motivated acts to limit or prohibit economic relations with Israel — targeting corporate entities or state-affiliated financial institutions from engaging in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

Israel’s Maariv newspaper said on Wednesday that “the bill sends a powerful blow to attempts by Israel’s enemies to harm Israeli products”.

The newspaper pointed out that such laws are designed to counter the boycott movement and prosecute those who cooperate with it.

The bill provoked sharp criticism from Human Rights Watch who said it “is contrary to the United States policy and obligations in the field of human rights and international humanitarian law, especially that the law legitimizes settlements in the West Bank”.

The UK announced a few days ago its intention to prevent public institutions from boycotting “unethical” goods, such as those from illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine.

Asia & AmericasIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestineUS
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