US State Department: Conflating Israel and Israeli-controlled Territories Runs Counter to US Trade Policies

JERUSALEM, July 1, 2015 (WAFA) – Spokesperson of the United States Department of State John Kirby said that, ‘by conflating Israel and “Israeli-controlled territories,” a provision of the Trade Promotion Authority legislation runs counter to longstanding U.S. policy towards the occupied territories, including with regard to settlement activity.

In a statement Tuesday, Kirby first noted that the U.S. opposes Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against the state of Israel.” However, He said that, “Every U.S. administration since 1967 – Democrat and Republican alike – has opposed Israeli settlement activity beyond the 1967 lines.” Affirming that, “ This Administration is no different.”

According to Israel National News, “The announcement comes after President Barack Obama signed his ‘fast track’ trade bill – which also contains legislation combating the BDS movement in Europe – into law on Monday.

US spokesperson stressed that, “The US government has never defended or supported Israeli settlements and activity associated with them and, by extension, does not pursue policies or activities that would legitimize them.”

He added, “Administrations of both parties have long recognized that settlement activity and efforts to change facts on the ground undermine the goal of a two-state solution to the conflict and only make it harder to negotiate a sustainable and equitable peace deal in good faith.”

“As we advance our trade agenda, we will continue to strengthen our economic ties with partners globally, including Israel.  We will also continue to uphold policies integral to preserving the prospect of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Meanwhile, Portman, in a statement Tuesday,  defended the measure, saying: “The language in our amendment, which was adopted unanimously by the Senate Finance Committee and the Ways and Means Committee, does nothing to prejudge the final borders of a negotiated agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Boycotts against Israel, in any form, are wrong and antithetical to U.S. efforts toward peace.”