Friday, May 27, 2011

U.S. Announces Sanctions Against Israeli Company

Although clearly this news has nothing to do with our movement to end U.S. support for Israeli occupation and apartheid -- which we pursue partly through boycott-divestment-and-sanctions campaigns -- still it might serve as a useful answer to anyone who claims that we cannot boycott or sanction Israel.

By Isabel Kershner
May 26, 2011

JERUSALEM -- Even as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was praising the United States in a speech on Tuesday for imposing tougher sanctions on Iran for its nuclear activities, the State Department announced that it was imposing sanctions on a leading Israeli company, Ofer Brothers Group, for activities supporting Iran’s energy sector.

While the State Department’s decision caused Israel considerable embarrassment, it was the timing that created the greatest stir. It came soon after Mr. Netanyahu’s friction with Mr. Obama over using the 1967 borders as a basis for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Nobody wants to over-interpret the choice of timing,” said an Israeli official who was speaking on the condition of anonymity for diplomatic reasons, “but there was no objective reason for the State Department to come out with the announcement on that precise day.”

“Does this carry meaning? I am unable to tell you. But you cannot blame anybody for being suspicious,” he said.

The Obama administration dismissed any connection between the sanctions and Mr. Netanyahu’s visit. “These sanctions take months” to work through the Department of Treasury’s vetting process, a senior administration official said. “There is a process.”

Still, the awkward fact remains that a corporation owned by one of Israel’s most prominent business families has been blacklisted for dealings, however indirect, with Iran.

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