A committee of the US Senate has approved a bill to protect illegal Israeli “Jewish-only” settlements built in occupied Palestinian territories.
The Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, designed with the intent to protect illegal Israeli settlements, was approved by the Senate on April 29, reported Palestinian news agencies.
The act is intended to counter Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) initiatives, including the labelling of goods originating in the settlements. The BDS initiative against the Israeli occupation of Palestine was launched in the US 11 years ago.
Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Golan Heights are illegal under international law and the UN has repeatedly upheld the view that Israel’s construction of settlements constitutes a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Settlers are also not considered as Israeli citizens in many countries.
The amendment in the House, which was introduced by Representative Peter Roskam, was attached to this year’s Trade Promotion Authority bill. The amendment sets as a principle negotiating objective “to discourage politically motivated actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel and seek the elimination of politically motivated non-tariff barriers on Israeli goods, services, or other commerce imposed on the State of Israel.”
The amendment is designed to pressure the EU, which is currently negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the US, to reverse course on the steps it has taken in recent years to oppose Israeli settlements. These include new guidelines preventing entities operating from Israeli-occupied territory from receiving EU funding and a recent push to label settlement products entering the EU.
Such activities will now be “against US law and consequently illegal”, even though international law deems all settlements to be illegal.