Gov. Brian Kemp signed bipartisan legislation Monday that prohibits the state from doing business with companies that are boycotting Israel.

The Georgia House and Senate overwhelmingly passed different versions of House Bill 383 last year. It didn’t receive final passage until early in this year’s session when the House agreed to the Senate version.

Taking a stand in support of Israel is particularly important in the wake of growing anti-Semitism in the U.S. and across the Western world in recent years in the form of physical and verbal attacks, Kemp said during a brief bill-signing ceremony at the state Capitol.

“This legislation pushes back against that shameful and inexcusable prejudice,” he said. “It reasserts that hatred has no place in Georgia.”

The bill specifically takes aim at the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a Palestinian-led effort supporters say is to pressure the Israeli government into granting full civil rights to Palestinians.

“The movement is not about criticizing Israeli policy,” said Anat Sultan-Dadon, Israel’s consul general to the Southeastern United States. “It’s about denying Israel’s right to exist.”

House Bill 383 is limited to state contracts valued at $100,000 or more.

Georgia and Israel have longstanding ties. Israel has maintained a consulate in Atlanta since 1956, and Georgia has had a presence in Israel since 1994.

The two countries carry on a trade relationship worth $800 million a year. More than 100 Georgia companies do business in Israel, while more than 90 Israeli companies are in Georgia representing industries including financial technology, cybersecurity, health care, aerospace and e-commerce.

Kemp said the Georgia Department of Economic Development is planning to send a delegation on a trade mission to Israel next year. A trip planned for last year had to be postponed due to COVID-related travel restrictions.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

Dave Williams | Capitol Beat

Dave Williams is the Bureau Chief of Capitol Beat News Service.