Senate Dems split with White House on Israel trade provisions

Six Democratic senators on Thursday broke with the White House in saying that they support provisions in two laws ensuring free trade with Israel.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidOvernight Defense: VA chief 'deeply' regrets Disney remark; Senate fight brews over Gitmo Overnight Healthcare: House loosens pesticide rules to fight Zika | A GOP bill that keeps some of ObamaCare | More proof of pending premium hikes The Trail 2016: Digging up dirt MORE (Nev.) was joined by Sens. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerOvernight Healthcare: House, Senate on collision course over Zika funding Ryan goes all-in on Puerto Rico Cruz's dad: Trump 'would be worse than Hillary Clinton' MORE (N.Y.), Ron WydenRon WydenSenate panel advances spy policy bill, after House approves its own version Overnight Cybersecurity: House to offer bill on government hacking powers House to offer bill blocking government hacking powers MORE (Ore.), Ben CardinBen CardinBaltimore police officer cleared in Freddie Gray case Dems pressure Obama on vow to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees Overnight Regulation: Schumer offering gun control bill MORE (Md.), Michael BennetMichael BennetGOP ad calls Clinton 'a living history of scandal' Trump, GOP agree: ObamaCare helps us GOP hopefuls struggle with support of Trump MORE (Colo.) and Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalSenators take aim at 'armies of zombie computers' Report: Sexual assault victims wrongfully discharged from military TSA uproar spills into Congress MORE (Conn.) in urging the Obama administration to implement provisions in the recent trade laws — trade promotion authority (TPA) and customs enforcement — arguing that they are consistent with U.S. policy.

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“While the Obama administration has reiterated its opposition to boycotts, divestment campaigns and sanctions targeting the State of Israel, it has mischaracterized the TPA and customs bill provisions as making a U.S. policy statement about Israeli settlements," the senators said in a statement.

"This simply is not the case. These provisions are not about Israeli settlements," they said. 

They argued that the provisions in the two laws are in line with U.S. policy and are about discouraging commercial actions "aimed at delegitimizing Israel and pressuring Israel into unilateral concessions outside the bounds of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations."

“In recent years, we have seen some of our trading partners engage in a number of politically motivated, misguided commercial boycotts and sanctions against Israel," they said.

They noted that "such actions run counter to longstanding U.S. policy" and that it is "incumbent upon the United States to use every diplomatic tool to stop our trading partners from imposing such misguided actions."

The senators said that such policy has long been reflected in the U.S.-Israel trade deal, which doesn't "distinguish tariff treatment among products based on whether they were produced in Israeli territories."

The customs measure was signed by President Obama on Wednesday and TPA was signed into law last summer. 

In the past several months several U.S. trading partners have dismissed new rules furthering the boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement as "mere consumer awareness," they said.

"But the rise in the BDS movement correlates with growing anti-Semitism around the globe. Therefore, it is critical that we address this issue."