A small, bipartisan group of House members introduced a resolution Thursday that condemns the boycott-Israel movement and reaffirms the commitment to a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – setting up what will likely become a tense debate among Democrats, who are divided on the issue.
The resolution, obtained by CNN and first reported by The Washington Post, outlines clear opposition to the Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement – shorthandedly referred to as the BDS Movement – which, in its own words, “works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.”
Text of the resolution states the BDS Movement “undermines the possibility for a negotiated solution” to the conflict by “demanding concessions of one party alone and encouraging the Palestinians to reject negotiations in favor of international pressure.”
It knocks the BDS Movement for targeting not only the Israeli government but also academic, cultural and civil society institutions in Israel, and argues many supporters of the movement don’t recognize the right of the Jewish people in any part of “their homeland.”
The resolution is poised to become a flashpoint among Democrats, as the BDS Movement has supporters in the Democratic caucus, including Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota has expressed support for the movement, but she has also vocalized concerns about its effectiveness. CNN has reached out to Omar for comment and has not yet received a response.
Tlaib’s spokesman told CNN she will oppose the measure.
“Peaceful forms of speech, including economic boycotts, are constitutionally protected. Where would civil rights in the United States be without the heroic Montgomery bus boycotts?” said Denzel McCampbell, Tlaib’s communications director. “Congresswoman Tlaib obviously opposes this resolution because it is aimed at suppressing free speech and moves us no closer to peace and understanding. The economic boycott of Israel or any other government based on violations of human rights is about highlighting the injustices that need to stop.”
Drafters of the resolution – Democratic Reps. Jerry Nadler of New York and Brad Schneider of Illinois, along with Republican Reps. Lee Zeldin of New York and Ann Wagner of Missouri – started working on the resolution in January.
The GOP-controlled Senate passed anti-BDS legislation that same month that would make it easier for states to fight against the movement. Many Senate Democrats opposed the anti-BDS language, saying it violated First Amendment rights of Americans who want to boycott Israel. That measure hasn’t been taken up by the House.
While drafters started working on the resolution before Omar made controversial comments that exposed division among Democrats, it’s being introduced amid a political climate that has both sides of the aisle debating what it means to be anti-Semitic, with President Donald Trump also launching fierce attacks against the Democrats.
A Democratic congressional aide said there was a “feeling that the BDS Movement was being used as a political football against Democrats” and drafters wanted to “craft a resolution to show that there is no false choice. The BDS Movement is giving false choice.”
The unveiling comes ahead of the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, where major political figures – including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – will speak.
It’s unclear if a vote will be scheduled on the floor for next week. An aide to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said a vote has not been scheduled but that Hoyer “believes the BDS Movement should be condemned.”