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 Mason ReidThe Hill's Morning Report — Pelosi makes it official: Trump will be impeached Doctors are dying by suicide every day and we are not talking about it Impeachment trial throws curveball into 2020 race MORE (Nev.) was joined by Sens. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Why a second Trump term and a Democratic Congress could be a nightmare scenario for the GOP MORE (N.Y.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson – House progressives may try to block vote on Pelosi drug bill | McConnell, Grassley at odds over Trump-backed drug pricing bill | Lawmakers close to deal on surprise medical bills Congressional leaders unite to fight for better future for America's children and families McConnell, Grassley at odds over Trump-backed drug bill MORE (Ore.), Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinThe Secure Act makes critical reforms to our retirement system — let's pass it this year Lawmakers honor JFK on 56th anniversary of his death Senate Democrats ask Pompeo to recuse himself from Ukraine matters MORE (Md.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetBloomberg on 2020 rivals blasting him for using his own money: 'They had a chance to go out and make a lot of money' Senators want FERC to protect critical infrastructure from Huawei threats Krystal Ball: What Harris's exit means for the other 2020 candidates MORE (Colo.) and Richard Blumenthal (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."