President Obama has signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade bill today, bringing into law a piece of legislation which includes overt attempts to extend America’s own ban on boycotting Israel abroad, and demands Europe end all “non-tariff barriers” on Israel.
Under US law, all participation in any boycott or divestment of Israel is illegal, and the US Department of Commerce has its own Office of Antiboycott Compliance solely responsible for ensuring that all Americans are willing to do business with Israel.
The amendment to the bill is vaguely-worded, but seeks to make overturning overseas sanctions or boycotts against Israel the “principal trade objective” of all US trade negotiations with the European Union. The language doesn’t just forbid EU nations from joining the formal BDS movement but also from attempting any limits on Israeli commerce, including products from the occupied territories.
Even the US State Department has a problem with how broad the language of the bill is, saying the conflation of Israel with Israeli occupied settlements runs “counter to longstanding US policy.” With the EU courts obliging companies not to do business in the occupied territories, this could effectively make all trade deals with them impossible to reach for US negotiators.
Amendment sponsor Rep. Peter Roskam (R – IL) made it clear he believes the language of the bill can be used “to fight against Israel’s enemies,” and could be used to attack any company he believes is insufficiently pro-Israel in its approach to doing business.
Rep. Roskam cited Orange S.A., a French telecom that made it clear they want to stop doing business in Israel, not because of any political objection but because the market there is simply unprofitable, saying this would “force” Orange to think twice before even expressing problems with their operations within Israel.