President Obama will be signing the legislation. However, the White House issued a statement hours after the bills passage stating “[W]e do not support, including a provision that contravenes longstanding U.S. policy towards Israel and the occupied territories, including with regard to Israeli settlement activity.” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said 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. As with any bipartisan compromise legislation, there are provisions in this bill that we do not support, including a provision that contravenes longstanding U.S. policy towards Israel and the occupied territories, including with regard to Israeli settlement activity.
The legislation references “any territory controlled by Israel” or “Israeli-controlled territories” seven separate times, making it the first U.S. legislation effectively defining Israel as including occupied Palestine, essentially recognizing the territory of Palestine and Israel as one entity.
The Times of Israel reports AIPAC’s affirmation of the legislation : Obama to reluctantly sign trade bill that lumps together Israel and settlements:
“The provision puts the US firmly on record opposing BDS and supporting enhanced commercial ties between the United States and Israel,” AIPAC said in a statement Thursday. “This measure builds on the important work of Congress … passing into law firm anti-BDS negotiating objectives for American trade negotiators.”
Within 180 days after the bill becomes the law, the US administration will be required to report to the Congress on global BDS activities, including the participation of foreign companies in political boycotts of the Jewish State. It also includes a number of legal protections for American companies that operate in Israel.
While the Obama administration has long expressed adamant opposition to BDS tactics targeting Israel, there are several references in the legislation to “Israeli-controlled territories” or “any territory controlled by Israel” as being applicable to the terms of the bill.
Relevant provisions included in the legislation include:
Statements of policy
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 (as defined in section 2(1)(B) of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (19 U.S.C. 3501(1)(B)));(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)
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.(2)
This subsection takes effect on the date of the enactment of this Act and applies with respect to negotiations commenced before, on, or after such date of enactment.(d)
Report on politically motivated acts of boycott of, divestment from, and sanctions against Israel(1)
Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the President shall submit to Congress a report on politically motivated boycotts of, divestment from, and sanctions against Israel.