(The Center Square) – Businesses that actively boycott products from Israel would be barred from participating in contracts with or doing any business with West Virginia state agencies under legislation passed by the West Virginia House of Delegates.
House Bill 2933, sponsored by Del. Kayla Kessinger, R-Fayette, passed the chamber with substantial bipartisan support. It received 94 “yes” votes and two “no” votes with four members absent.
State agencies, political subdivisions and pension plans would be barred from doing business with or investing in any company engaged in a boycott of Israel. The legislation requires that a business provide a written certification the company is not engaged in such a boycott and will not engage in such a boycott during the duration of a contract before the contract can be approved.
The legislation will apply if the business has 10 or more employees and the contract is worth $100,000 or more.
A boycott, as defined in this bill, would be applicable to any business that refuses to make deals with Israeli companies, terminates business activities or any action designed to inflict economic harm to Israel. It would also apply to any business that limits commercial relations specifically with Israel or persons or entities doing business with Israel. It applies to Israel and all other territories under its control.
If a business has explicitly stated that it is engaged in a boycott, that would be enough grounds for barring their ability to participate in state contracts or other business with the state. The bill would require participant plans to try to identify all businesses engaged in an Israel boycott and assemble the businesses into a list of “restricted companies.”
The legislation was introduced in response to the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The movement encourages businesses to halt economic activity with Israel until the country changes its policies in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Those regions, which are currently occupied by Israel, are legally recognized as Palestinian land by the United Nations.
Supporters of the movement say they are trying to incentivize Israel to follow international law. However, opponents have accused the movement of antisemitism for its singling out of Israel.