AUSTIN (Nexstar) — As President Biden visits Israel Wednesday, Texas’ state and federal leaders have changed state policy, invested state money, and signaled unwavering support for the U.S. ally as they enter the second week of war with Hamas.
Texas’ top accountant Glenn Hegar announced Friday the state will purchase $20 million in Israeli bonds, allowing Israel to free up cash to support the war effort.
“Texas has long had a deep spiritual, political and economic connection to Israel and the Israeli people,” Hegar said in a statement Friday. “They are our friend and ally, and Texas supports their right to defend their people against these cowardly terrorists. We will stand with them, and we will provide them with the financial liquidity needed to respond to the atrocities we’ve all witnessed.”
According to the Texas Comptroller’s Office, Texas has invested in Israeli bonds since 1994 and will now hold almost $100 million worth. Hegar called the move a “prudent financial decision” that will provide “a reliable return for the people of Texas.”
Banning Gaza products
Gov. Greg Abbott announced last week he is prohibiting state agencies from purchasing goods “produced in or exported from the Gaza Strip, and from any organization or state actor with ties to Hamas.”
The Gaza Strip is governed by Hamas, the Islamic terrorist organization that has killed more than 1,000 people in Israel since the Oct. 7 attack. It is also home to more than two million civilians, most of whom live in poverty due to strict economic sanctions meant to block resources from Hamas.
“The governor is just restating our commitment to the government of Israel, to the people of Israel, but also reminding entities that we’re going to be on extra cautious watch to make sure that we don’t do business with anybody that we shouldn’t be doing already,” Comptroller Hegar told Nexstar.
It’s not yet clear whether Texas agencies were importing products from Gaza. However, the latter half of Gov. Abbott’s executive order limiting imports from “any organization or state actor with ties to Hamas” could have wider-reaching implications. Iran, for example, is a financial supporter of Hamas and some U.S. leaders believe they helped orchestrate this month’s attacks against Israel. Qatar, as well, has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to the Gaza Strip for humanitarian aid.
Boycotting Israel’s boycotters
Since 2017, Texas has prohibited state agencies from doing business with some companies and contractors who boycott Israel.
Today, the law applies only to contracts for more than $100,000 with companies that employ more than 10 full-time employees.
The law has been challenged on free-speech grounds, but Texas successfully won arguments to uphold the law in court this year.
“Texas’s anti-boycott law is both constitutional and, unfortunately, increasingly necessary as the radical left becomes increasingly hostile and antagonistic toward Israel,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said in April. “Though some wish to get rid of the law and see Israel fail, the State of Texas will remain firm in our commitment to stand with Israel by refusing to do business with companies that boycott the only democratic nation in the Middle East.”