J Street Applauds Obama Signing Statement on Customs Bill

February 25, 2016

J Street commends President Obama for reasserting his determination to fight boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) aimed against Israel while at the same time upholding the legal distinction between Israel and territories it captured in 1967 and has been occupying ever since.

President Obama made his position clear in a statement he issued while signing the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 -– a massive piece of legislation almost entirely unrelated to Israeli-Palestinian issues.

Included in the legislation was a section requiring the United States to take steps to oppose not only BDS against Israel, but also in the words of the bill, “Israeli-controlled territories.” As the President said in his statement, this formulation blurs the distinction between Israel and the occupied territories and violates longstanding bipartisan US policy regarding the settlements.

By seeking to erase the legal distinction between Israel and the settlements and placing the settlements, in effect, under US protection, the authors of this provision turned an anti-BDS measure into a pro-settlement, anti-two-state provision.

Moreover, disturbingly, this is just one of several similar such efforts in Congress that have the goal and the effect of erasing the Green Line and extending US protection to the settlements. These efforts are both divisive and counterproductive. Instead of bringing opponents of the Global BDS Movement together into a broad coalition, they divide us by making the issue about the settlements.

We call on all interested parties to unite around the need to oppose the Global BDS Movement — while leaving decades of bipartisan US policy on the territories unchanged.