Senate votes to table divestment opposition bill SB 158

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The ASUC Senate voted to table a bill that called for the ASUC to seek “investment opportunities that strengthen Israeli-Palestinian cooperation” at its meeting Wednesday night.

SB 158, originally introduced as an alternative to divestment bill SB 160, was authored by SQUELCH! Senator Jason Bellet and Student Action Senator Rafi Lurie. The authors themselves requested that the bill be tabled indefinitely saying that to that the bill’s language had been too watered down in the ASUC’s Committee on University & External Affairs.

“The authors of this bill submitted the bill with certain language and the bill was edited down and edited down,” Lurie said during the meeting. “The language we (originally) put in there is what our community wanted to see. Table this instead of passing some half bill.”

The bill would encourage the ASUC to take financial and political action to help end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, recognizing harm inflicted on both side and affirming the right for a Jewish State. The bill would also indicate that the ASUC supports a two state solution.

Lurie maintained that the discussion surrounding the bill would not be laid to rest but instead addressed in a different bill.

Other senators, including CalSERVE Senator Nolan Pack and Student Action Senator George Kadifa, also addressed issues with the bill’s wording.

“I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to passing the bill as it came out of committee, but I am definitely opposed to many of the changes the authors are proposing,” Pack said in an email. “Specifically, the authors are packing the bill with loaded language that implicitly endorses disagreeable policies that may not be obvious at face value.”

Independent Senator Sadia Saifuddin said that that she felt portions of the bill were exclusionary to non-Jewish people living in Israel.

“I was not in support of some of the proposed amendments by the senators because the language was exclusionary by its nature and extraordinarily vague,” Saifuddin said in an email.

Bellet addressed concerns about the language of the bill saying that the bill is grounded in international law and correct in referring to Israel as a Jewish state.

“Jewish people and Palestinian people have a right to self determination,” Bellet said during discussion. “This bill supports Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.”

CalSERVE senator and ASUC President-elect DeeJay Pepito said she voted against tabling the bill because she felt the discussion while worthwhile, was too short.

“To be clear, Senators who voted yes on SB 160 were more than willing to vote yes on SB 158 also,” Pepito said in an email. “We just wanted a conversation on amendments and language use within its text. I am troubled tonight knowing that the conversation on 158 was so short. This bill deserved time on the Senate floor — the community supporting SB 158 deserved time on the Senate floor.”

Ally Rondoni is the lead student government reporter. Contact her at [email protected].