Like identical bill S. 720 of 3/23/17, this bill would amend the Export Administration Act of 1979 that bars participation in the Arab boycott of Israel to block U.S. persons engaged in interstate or international commerce from complying with or supporting a boycott of Israel or Israeli businesses, including those operating in the settlements, called for by a foreign country or an international institution, such as the UN or EU. It would also block U.S. persons from providing or requesting information on any person’s business relationship with Israel. This provision was designed in response to the 3/24/16 UNHRC request for the creation of a blacklist of all Israeli and international firms operating directly or indirectly in the occupied Palestinian territories (see JPS 45), with specific application to BDS initiatives. Any person who knowingly violates or attempts to violate this provision would be eligible for civil penalties of up to $250,000 or a criminal penalty of up to $1 m. and 20 years in prison.
The bill would also require the Export-Import Bank to consider policies and actions intended to penalize or otherwise limit relations with Israel when evaluating potential credit applications.
Although the bill’s “Definitions” section stated that “nothing in this section shall be construed to alter the established policy of the United States or to establish new U.S. policy concerning final status issues associated with the Arab-Israeli conflict, including border delineation,” critics alleged that the measure would effectively apply anti-BDS initiatives targeting both Israel as well as Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.