Leading Democrats are taking aim at the Obama administration for its opposition to newly passed legislation that aims to bolster the U.S.-Israel economic relationship and combat boycotts of Israel, according to a statement issued this week.
The Obama administration announced that it opposes portions of a bipartisan trade bill that would strengthen economic ties between the U.S. and Israel and force trade partners to sever ties with backers of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, an anti-Israel movement that seeks to economically isolate the Jewish state.
President Barack Obama issued a rare statement opposing the bill’s pro-Israel language this week, claiming that it sought to legitimize Israeli settlements. Obama stated that he would not enforce the pro-Israel provisions as a result of his personal disagreement with the policies.
The statement prompted top Democrats to break with the president.
The fracture between these Democrats and the administration comes amid White House support for efforts to label Jewish-made goods produced in disputed areas of Israel. These efforts have been described as anti-Semitic by Israel’s government.
“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,” Sens. Harry Reid (D., Nev.), Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), Ben Cardin (D., Md.), Michael Bennet (D., Colo.), and Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) said in a joint statement released Thursday.
The senators accused the Obama administration of lying about the pro-Israel bill and pushing a false narrative in efforts to oppose it.