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Don’t Legitimize Israeli Settlements: Reject S. 720 & H.R. 1697

By Kate Gould, April 18, 2017

Legislation in both the House and the Senate threatens to legitimize settlements in U.S. policy and suppress political criticism of Israeli settlements policy.

While billed as the "Israel Anti-Boycott Act," S. 720 & H.R. 1697 would be more appropriately titled "The Anti-Settlement Boycott Act," because it attempts to shelter Israeli settlements from international accountability measures as well as domestic political criticism. This bill would have troubling results:

1) Legitimizing settlements in U.S. policy

This bill legitimizes illegal Israeli settlements by treating settlements as part of Israel, effectively erasing the Green Line in U.S. law. Settlements are Jewish-only residential areas built on Palestinian land in the West Bank, across the Green Line and under Israeli military occupation.

  • Settlements obstruct prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace, because building settlements requires the destruction of Palestinian land. Palestinians living near settlements also face threats to their livelihoods and safety including attacks by settlers, violence from soldiers, and restrictions on access to their farmlands, schools, and homes.
  • Treating settlements as part of Israel proper reverses decades of official U.S. policy, which has opposed the settlements as a roadblock to peace for nearly a half century.

2) Suppressing political criticism of Israeli settlements

There is almost zero pretense that the effort is about anything other than legitimizing settlements - Lara Friedman

This legislation would impose penalties against people, businesses, and international governmental bodies that challenge illegal Israeli settlement policies, by conflating the settlement boycott with the movement for boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) and by instituting new penalties for those who boycott settlement goods.

Background How the U.S. Can Influence Israeli-Palestinian Peace 

The long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict drives violence and fosters unrest far beyond the borders of Israel and Palestine. There are no quick fixes; however, there are steps that can help move towards peace.

Background Frequently Asked Questions on FCNL and Israel-Palestine 

Get additional information about FCNL's position and work for a more peaceful Middle East.

Kate Gould

  • Legislative Director, Middle East Policy

Kate Gould served as FCNL's Legislative Director for Middle East Policy. Kate was one of only a handful of registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C. working to advance human rights objectives and support diplomatic solutions to resolve disputes between the U.S. and Iran and the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Israel/Palestine.