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Senators demand US administration reverse ‘antisemitic Israel boycott’

The Republican lawmakers called to rescind the "discriminatory" guidance halting scientific and technological cooperation with Israeli entities in Judea and Samaria.

U.S. President Joe Biden boards Air Force One for Saudi Arabia at Ben-Gurion Airport, July 15, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
U.S. President Joe Biden boards Air Force One for Saudi Arabia at Ben-Gurion Airport, July 15, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

A group of U.S. Republican senators sent a letter on Tuesday to Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling on the Biden administration to rescind its “discriminatory” guidance halting bilateral scientific and technological cooperation with Israeli entities operating in Judea and Samaria.

The administration late last month issued the directive applying to areas Israel captured in its defensive 1967 Six-Day War.

“The guidance does something America has never done before: unilaterally impose territorial restrictions on U.S. scientific research aid to Israel,” wrote the senators in their letter. “Decades ago, the U.S. and Israel bilaterally agreed to such limits against the backdrop of unique regional conditions, but in 2020, both sides rescinded and rejected them as discriminatory.”

The letter was spearheaded by U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with cosigners Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

“The new guidance as written constitutes an antisemitic boycott of Israel,” they wrote. “The American people and Congress broadly and deeply oppose boycott efforts against Israel, which have been repeatedly defined in U.S. law as efforts to limit [commerce] with persons doing business in any territories controlled by Israel….

“This guidance in particular puts Americans’ safety, security, and prosperity at risk because it politicizes and undermines cooperation on science and technology, including in areas such as defense and medicine where also our Israeli allies have proven themselves critical partners,” the lawmakers added.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson told Israeli media that President Biden’s decision was “simply reflective of the longstanding U.S. position that the ultimate disposition of the geographic areas is a final-status matter and that we are working towards a negotiated two-state solution.”

The move reversed an initiative by the Trump administration to eliminate a U.S. policy prejudiced against Israeli control of Judea and Samaria.

In October 2020, the Trump administration signed bilateral agreements to further enhance the cooperation with Israel in the areas of science, industrial research and agriculture by removing “geographic restrictions” from previous accords.

In eliminating the restrictions, then-U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said, “We are righting an old wrong. And strengthening yet again the unbreakable bond between our two countries. We are depoliticizing a process that should never have been political in the first place.”

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