Anti-BDS amendment submitted to Defense Authorization Act of 2017
On May 25, 2016, Sen. Mark Kirk, (R-IL) and 16 co-sponsors submitted an anti-BDS amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (S. 2943), allowing state and local governments to withhold business from entities engaged in the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel and “Israeli-controlled territories.”
The “Combatting BDS Act of 2016” is identical to the bill S2531 introduced by Sen. Kirk and 28 cosponsors last February. The amendment (found in SEC. 1281) authorizes a state or local government to divest its assets from, or prohibit investment of its assets in: (1) an entity that engages in a commerce or investment-related boycott, divestment, or sanctions activity targeting Israel; or (2) an entity that owns or controls, is owned or controlled by, or is under common ownership or control with, such an entity.
This amendment conflates Israel with “Israeli-controlled territories” as one entity – Israel. As such, it contravenes U.S. policy, which recognizes the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem as occupied territories. Furthermore, the U.S. considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem illegitimate and obstacles to peace. Boycott is also a constitutionally protected right and this amendment seeks to curb our First Amendment rights.
So far, no action has been taken on the amendment nor has it been called or proposed on the floor of the Senate. If it is eventually included in SB 2943 and the bill passes, it is unlikely President Obama would veto the entire defense spending bill because of its inclusion. However, there would be the opportunity for the President to mark his objections by issuing a ‘signing statement’ as he did last year when he signed the Customs Bill HR 644 into law despite it containing a similar anti-BDS measure.
The American Muslims for Palestine is sending you this news bulletin to keep you abreast of the situation should action be required in the near future.