Texas Governor Greg Abbott spoke by phone to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday about three bills lawmakers passed during the 2017 legislative session which reaffirm strong ties between the Lone Star and Jewish states.
“Texas has enjoyed a long and productive relationship with Israel, and I am proud to reaffirm our commitment to our most trusted partner in the Middle East with the signing of these laws,” said Abbott, according to a press release issued by the Governor’s office. “I thank the Texas legislature for passing laws to strengthen the relationship between Texas and Israel, and I look forward to further fortifying our alliance moving forward,” he stated.
In May, Breitbart Texas reported Abbott signed House Bill 89, the toughest anti-boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), or “anti-BDS,” legislation in the nation, saying, “Any anti-Israel policy is an anti-Texas policy.” This law stands firmly against the discriminatory BDS movement that uses false, distorted, and anti-Semitic rhetoric to demonize Israel and its citizens to isolate the Jewish state.
“Texas is not going to do business with any country that boycotts Israel,” Abbott has said. The Texas anti-BDS law mandates companies that contract with Texas government entities verify they do not and will not boycott Israel, also barring state pension and endowment funds like the Teacher Retirement System, the Employees Retirement System of Texas, the University of Texas Investment Management Company, and the permanent school fund from investing with companies that boycott Israel.
Israel is Texas’ fourth leading trade partner with numerous joint projects in agricultural research and development, science and technology and industrial research. In 2016, Texas exported nearly $739 million million of product to Israel, up from $498 million the year before. Nearly 300 companies in Texas do business with Israel. Additionally, Texas holds more than $50 million in high-rated State of Israel Bonds.
Last month, Abbott also signed two other bills that strengthen Texas laws and prohibit state agencies from contracting with or investing in companies that do business with Iran, Sudan, or designated foreign terrorist organizations.
Senate Bill 252, dubbed the Terror State Contracting Divestiture Act, bars state governmental entities from contracting with companies engaged in business with Iran, Sudan, or other designated foreign terrorist organizations. Senate Bill 253, the Terror State Divestiture Act, expands the state’s current Iranian divestiture standards to additional state funds and extends these prohibitions to include various local government funds.
Breitbart Texas reported these bills fortified the 2013 Texas Prohibition on Investment in Iran Act which only banned state pension and retirement systems from investing in Iran or with entities that do business with the Iranian and Sudanese governments. Nothing prevented state agencies and political subdivisions of the state from using taxpayer dollars to contract with these same companies.
During their phone conversation, Netanyahu thanked Abbott for his strong support of the Texas-Israel alliance, and for solidifying the bond and values that Texas and Israel share. In 2016, Abbott met with the Israeli Prime Minister, voicing his steadfast support and friendship to the State of Israel.
Under the former Obama administration, Abbott strongly opposed the Iran Deal, calling it “misguided” to lift sanctions against the rogue nation. He said it undermined the national security of the United States and its strategic allies abroad, especially that of “our most important Middle East ally, Israel.”
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