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Senate acts first to boycott companies that boycott Israel

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) on

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) on June 25, 2015, at the Capitol in Albany. Photo Credit: AP / Mike Groll

ALBANY — The Senate on Wednesday passed a bipartisan bill to identify companies that are boycotting Israel, then deny those companies state contracts and investments from the state pension fund.

The bill now goes to the Democratic-led Assembly for a vote where there is also strong support for the measure.

“New York taxpayers need to be protected from becoming unwitting supporters of those who are trying to undermine our greatest ally, Israel, and other critical allies,” said Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport). “We are demonstrating that New York will continue to stand with our international partners and protect our shared interests.”

The bill sponsored by Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) and Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) is one of two bills aimed at boycotting companies that are boycotting Israel.

“Israel and our other allies stand side by side with us to protect New Yorkers and all Americans,” Martins said. “We owe it to them to ensure our own resources are not used in efforts to attack them.”

The companies placed on the list would be banned from state business as “nonresponsive bidders.” The companies also wouldn’t be eligible for investments from the state’s massive pension fund, according to the bill.

Each bill is similar to bills in California and a few other states. They are aimed at blocking the so-called BDS Movement — short for boycott, divestment and sanctions — mounted by a committee based in the West Bank. The organizers have told The Associated Press in Jerusalem that they seek to end Israel’s occupation of land won in the 1967 war, end discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel and promote the right of Palestinians to return to family land lost when Israel was created in 1948.

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