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UC Student Senate Still Deliberating on Israel Divestment Bill

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday April 22, 2010 - 06:36:00 PM

The UC Berkeley student senate did not take any action Wednesday on the contentious Israel divestment bill which was vetoed by their president last month. 

At an April 14 meeting, a motion to override the veto did not pass and was consequently tabled by the senate. 

Hundreds of people showed up to speak for and against the bill during the public comment section of that meeting which lasted until nearly 5 a.m. Supporters of Israel criticized the bill, which urges the university to stop investing in General Electric and United Technologies, two American companies which provide weapons to the Israeli Army. They said it was unfair to single out Israel when war crimes were being committed in other parts of the world, but the bill's backers argued that it would send a pointed message to the government of the Jewish state. 

Associated Students of the University of California Senator Christina Oatfield said that “technically the senate could still vote to override the bill next week.” 

A motion to add a new bill on the topic to next week's agenda fell short of the two-thirds vote required . Oatfield said that the new bill was similar to the old one, but it had more clauses condemning Hamas, the militant group in Palestine. “It also includes that the senate felt like Palestinians had a right to live peacefully,” she said. Oatfield said that the new bill will be considered eventually, but was delayed by a week, 

The new bill was written by the original bill's authors with input from other senators, Oatfield said. 

However Sandra Cohen, an ASUC senator who voted against the original bill, said that the new bill did not address any of her concerns, or “the concerns of other people.” 

“That is why it did not get the required number of votes to be included in the agenda for next week,” she said. “My main concern was singling out this one situation, and I don;t think the new bill addresses it at all.” 

Most of Wednesday's senate discussion was in closed session and senators are not allowed to discuss details of that meeting with the public, Oatfield said. 

She said that the senators were still receiving e-mails and letters from supporters and opponents of the bill, but “just not as many as before.”