Washington, DC – Americans for Peace Now (APN) today welcomed the Obama Administration’s June 30 rejection of
legislative language conflating Israel with West Bank settlements (full text of the State Department statement is
copied below). APN Director of Policy and Government Relations Lara Friedman commented:
“We welcome the State Department’s statement that U.S. policy regarding settlements remains unchanged. For months we have been warning of ongoing efforts by some in Congress, led by AIPAC and supported by various right-wing organizations, as well as by some in the current Israeli government, to change U.S. policy on this issue by stealth. These efforts seek to exploit concerns about boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) targeting Israel – concerns APN shares – as cover for legislation the true purpose and effect of which are to protect and promote settlements.
“Israel's settlements enterprise has been opposed by every U.S. administration since 1967, regardless of political the party. Likewise, Congress has consistently until now coupled its own strong support for Israel with rejection of Israel’s settlement policies – including barring the use of U.S.-backed loan guarantees for settlement activity.
“The pro-settlements provision passed into law as part of the Fast Track trade promotion bill – the provision to which the State Department’s statement was responding – is just one example of this ongoing campaign to legislate U.S. policy to support and protect settlements, under the guise of fighting BDS targeting Israel. A similar effort to conflate Israel and the settlements has been incorporated into another pending trade bill, in addition to being introduced as freestanding legislation in both the House and Senate.
“These unprecedented efforts to change U.S. policy to support and promote settlements are manifestly irresponsible, misguided, and counterproductive. Settlements undermine Israel's security, erode Israel's position in the international community and give lie to Israel's commitment to peace and the two-state solution - and without a two-state solution, Israel cannot survive as a Jewish state and a democracy. Congressional efforts to force other countries to support settlements will only put the U.S. on a collision course with its closest allies – as is already being seen today in Congressional efforts to paint EU policies regarding settlements as anti-Israel. And these efforts will only feed BDS targeting Israel, validating many BDS activists’ claims that Israel and the settlements are one and the same.
“We urge members of Congress – all those who truly care about Israel and its future – to reject the current campaign to conflate Israel with settlements, and to stand against any and all efforts to redefine support for Israel to mean support for settlements, continued occupation, and the extremist anti-peace, anti-two-states, Greater Israel agenda.”
State Department 6/30 statement:
The United States has worked in the three decades since signing the U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement - our first such agreement with any country - to grow trade and investment ties exponentially with Israel. The United States government has also strongly opposed boycotts, divestment campaigns, and sanctions targeting the State of Israel, and will continue to do so.
However, 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. Every U.S. administration since 1967 - Democrat and Republican alike - has opposed Israeli settlement activity beyond the 1967 lines. This Administration is no different. The U.S. 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.
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.
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