1. Bills, Resolutions, & Letters
2. “US-Israel Cooperation Enhancement & Regional Security Act” (HR 1837)
4. On the Record
*Brought to you in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Round-Up was born!
HFAC Hearing 7/17
As noted in last week’s Round-Up, on 7/17 the House Foreign Affairs Committee was scheduled to mark up three Israel-related resolutions: H. Res. 246 (bashing boycotts of Israel/settlements); H. Res 326 (cheering for peace!); and HR 1850 (sanctioning anyone who goes near Hamas). In the end, the markup did all of this and more, leading AIPAC to celebrate (celebratory Twitter thread is here). It is worth noting that other than Omar, D-MN, expressing misgivings about H. Res 246, the debate about these measures basically consisted of Democrats and Republicans fighting about whether the measures were pro-Israel enough (with both sides taking shots at the Obama Administration for being insufficiently supportive of Israel, with numerous measures attacking the two-state solution, with members piling on about the evils of the Palestinians, and of course with everyone attacking boycotts of Israel and settlements as evil and antisemitic…). Video of the mark-up is here; consideration of Israel-related bills/resolutions start around 01:08:00). All of these measures were passed by the committee by a voice vote and should be expected to come to the floor for a vote imminently.
UPDATE: The mis-characterization (or let’s just say it: lies) about the statement delivered in the HFAC markup by Rep. Omar (D-MN) has been so pervasive that it seemed important to excerpt/highlight the clip of Omar speaking to make it really easy for people to watch and judge for themselves (no excuses folks – it is 5 min long and I am spoon-feeding it to you). In addition, for those who prefer to read/study the words, I have made a transcript, including in Section 4, below.
(BASHING BOYCOTTS & BOYCOTTERS OF ISRAEL/SETTLEMENTS) H. Res. 246: On 7/17, as expected, the House Foreign Affairs Committee moved H. Res. 246 (with an amendment in the nature of a substitute that left the substance unchanged, plus an amendment from Zeldin, R-NY, to strengthen the bashing of anyone who boycotts Israel or settlements), a resolution featured as a priority on AIPAC’s website (and, bafflingly, supported by a number of progressive Jewish groups) that delegitimizes boycotts of Israel and/or settlements, and maligns supporters/defenders of this form of protected free speech. I say “moved” because this was not a mark-up in the sense of the resolution being substantively debated/amended – rather, it was largely an occasion for bipartisan grandstanding in support of the measure (full video of the hearing is here); one member, Omar (D-MN), expressed measured, restrained opposition to the measure – in comments that were characterized by fellow committee member Zedlin (R-NY) as “hateful” (her comments run from 1:50:00 to 1:55:00 in the video). For a review on why this measure is problematic (to say the least) see my twitter thread from last week. Schneider (D-IL) press release is here. [NOTE: It is a good bet that the Senate is also getting set to move on its version of this bill, S. Res. 120, which gained 3 new cosponsors this week – bringing the total to 67.]
(WE <HEART> 2SS [JUST DON’T ASK US TO DO ANYTHING CONCRETE TO BACK THAT UP, & DON’T ASK US TO RECOGNIZE OCCUPATION]) H. Res. 326: On 7/17, as expected, the House Foreign Affairs Committee moved on H. Res. 326, which has been touted as the courageous resolution laying down a marker that Congress still supports peace and the two-state solution. Yet, before moving what was already a toothless measure totally disconnected from current realities, House Democrats decided it was important to rewrite the resolution to align it more closely with the views of Benjamin Netayahu, Jason Greenblatt, and David Friedman — first passing an amendment in the nature of a substitute that stripped out a historically factually reference in the original text to U.S. efforts to end the “occupation,” softened references to settlements, and added in language bashing the Palestinians. Because that’s how you show you’re serious about peace and the two-state solution! Oh, and even with the changes, GOP members of the committee still opposed it – seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.
(SANCTIONING EVERYONE WHO GOES NEAR HAMAS or PIJ) HR 1850: On 7/17, as expected, the House Foreign Affairs Committee moved on HR 1850, the “Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act.” This bill, introduced around the AIPAC Policy Conference (but not listed at the time as an AIPAC lobbying item) was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Financial Services, and not heard from again — until it showed up on the mark-up calendar in HFAC for July 17. As noted in the March 22nd edition of the Round-Up, the far-reaching bill would seem to have implications for countries that deal with Gaza, including Egypt, Qatar, and Turkey, not to mention Israel (which is actively complicit in getting cash to Gaza for Hamas). But don’t worry, it has waivers. Mast (R-FL) press release is here.
BONUS TRACK 1 – (WISH LIST OF ALL THINGS ISRAEL COULD WANT, PLUS ATCA “FIX”) HR 1837: Sometime after noon on 7/12, the 7/17 markup was expanded to include HR 1837, Introduced 3/21 by Deutch (D-FL) and Wilson (R-SC),“To make improvements to certain defense and security assistance provisions and to authorize assistance for Israel, and for other purposes.” This is the 2019 version of AIPAC’s 2018 conference ask, HR 5141 (which was also included in S. 1, which as of this writing still shows up on AIPAC’s website as a legislative priority), “United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018.” The bill is a huge grab-bag of goodies for Israel – some of them hugely significant (like the provision authorizing the President, in emergency cases, to provide weapons to Israel with zero Congressional oversight, and the provision significantly increasing the size of the U.S. arms cache in Israel. Full details of the bill are discussed in Section 2, below. Deutch press release on passage is here.
BONUS TRACK 2- (PEACE THROUGH REGIONAL NORMALIZATION & PRESSURE ON PALESTINIANS TO RETURN TO “TALKS”) H. Res. 138: Sometime after noon on 7/12, the 7/17 markup was expanded to include H. Res. 138, introduced 2/19 by Hastings (D-FL) and having 32 cosponsors, “Expressing support for addressing the Arab-Israeli conflict in a concurrent track with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and commending Arab and Muslim-majority states that have improved bilateral relations with Israel.” As covered in detail 3/1/19 edition of the Round-Up, while giving lip service to support for a two-state solution, this is in effect little more than an endorsement if Netanyahu’s (and the Trump Administration’s) “regional” approach to achieving “progress” toward peace through normalized relations between Israel and the Arab world. Adding insult to injury, the Committee adopted an amendment from Wilson (R-SC) highlighting the Trump Administration’s policy and the recent Bahrain “workshop.”
Other Bills & Resolutions re: Israel/Palestine
(DEFENDING FREE SPEECH/BOYCOTTS) H. Res. 496: Introduced 7/16 by Omar (D-MN) and currently having 5 other cosponsors, “Affirming that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.” Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
- This resolution is being branded as pro-BDS, anti-Israel, hateful, etc. It is being used as a new weapon to allege antisemitism by Omar and other sponsors, and it is being exploited by President Trump in his shameless weaponization of Israel and antisemitism for partisan and electoral purposes.
- Clearly, the context of this resolution is the House Foreign Affairs Committee decision to advance H. Res. 246, demonizing and delegitimizing boycotts of Israel or settlements.
- However, judged on its actual text — which does not once mention Israel, the resolution should be 100% non-controversial & bipartisan, assuming members actually support free speech/the 1st Amendment.
- Indeed, it should be a bipartisan slam-dunk at any time; at a moment when both Democrats and Republicans claim to be concerned about freedom of speech, one would think it would be something members from both parties would be clamoring to cosponsor/pass.
- But, of course, it will be more complicated than that, given strong forces pushing a free speech exception for Israel — and it is not possible to both delegitimize/criminalize political free speech on Israel and at the same time defend/protect political free speech in general.
- Indeed, the introduction of this resolution is a clarifying moment: Text defending free speech – not once mentioning Israel and by any objective standard non-controversial – is now being characterized as assault on Israel. Why? Because there is no way to prevent protest of Israel without delegitimizing free speech altogether.
- In this context, it is worth recalling Sen. Blackburn’s (R-TN) recent bill defending free speech on campus, covered in the 6/7/19 edition of the Round-Up. It was triggered not by concerns about BDS/criticism of Israel, but by concerns that conservative voices on campuses are being stifled. Regardless, the bill is generic in its application and its implications for free speech critical of Israel are as profound as those of Omar’s resolution on boycotts. But unsurprisingly, nobody called Blackburn an antisemite for introducing it.
(TWEAKING ATCA) S. 2132 (text is here): Introduced 7/16 by Lankford (R-OK), Grassley (R-IA) and Duckworth (D-IL), “A bill to promote security and provide justice for United States victims of international terrorism,” identical to the amendment offered by Lankford and Grassley to the NDAA (SA 777). Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. This is a Senate effort to “fix” ATCA – in a manner that is notably different from and incompatible with the “fix” included in HR 1837, which was marked up/passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week. Lankford press release is here. The purpose of this measure is to (a) allow some portion of aid for the Palestinians to re-start by tweaking ATCA to not apply to all forms of aid, while (b) legislating new conditions that, if triggered, would enable lawfare organizations to sue the PLO/PA out of existence. And to make it extra fun, in order to not trigger these conditions, the Palestinians would, in effect, have to give up literally all possible legal, non-violent avenues for action at their disposal. Specifically, the added triggers are: (a) any Palestinian official setting foot in the United States in any official capacity; (b) failure by the Palestinians to announce withdrawal (within 120 days of this becoming law) from any UN agencies in which Palestine has been granted membership; (c) the Palestinians remaining a member in any UN agency (after 2 years of this becoming law), and (d) at any time after this becomes law, the Palestinians taking any steps to seek or accept standing in any UN agency.
Other Bills & Resolutions
(NO WEAPONS SALES WITHOUT CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT) S. J. Res. 36, S.J.Res.37, and S.J.Res.38: On 7/17, the House passed these three joint resolutions providing for congressional disapproval of proposed transfer of certain defense articles and services to: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Kingdom of Spain, and the Italian Republic; the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Republic of France; and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The (partisan) votes were: 238-190, 238-190, and 237-190. Floor statements are here. Also see New York Times report, here.
(ACCOUNTABILITY FOR KHASHOGGI) HR 2037: Introduced 4/2 by Malinkowski (D-NJ) and having 19 cosponsors, “To encourage accountability for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi,” aka, the “Saudi Arabia Human Rights and Accountability Act of 2019.” Passed in the House under suspension of the rules by a vote of 405-7. Floor consideration is here.
(BAD KSA, STOP JAILING WOMEN ACTIVISTS) H. Res. 129: Introduced 2/13 by Frankel (D-FL) and having 31 cosponsors “Condemning the Government of Saudi Arabia’s continued detention and alleged abuse of women’s rights activists.” Passed in the House 7/15 under suspension of the rules by voice vote. Frankel press release is here.
(WE <HEART> THE JCPOA) H. Res. 495: Introduced 7/16 by Lee (D-CA) and 29 Democratic cosponsors, “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the prevention of Iran from obtaining or developing nuclear weapons.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
(TRANSITION & VIOLENCE IN SUDAN) H. Res. 432: Introduced 6/10 by Kildee (D-MI) and 71 bipartisan cosponsors, “Condemning the attacks on peaceful protesters and supporting an immediate peaceful transition to a civilian-led democratic government in Sudan.” Passed in the House 7/15 under suspension of the rules by a vote of 414-1.
(IRAN IN FY20 INTELLIGENCE AUTHORIZATION BILL) HR 3494: Introduced 6/26 by Schiff (D-CA), the “Damon Paul Nelson and Matthew Young Pollard Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.”
>As introduced, the bill makes only passing reference to Iran, in Section. 305, listing countries covered by a requirement entitled “Assessment of contracting practices to identify certain security and counterintelligence concerns.”
>As reported out of the Select Intelligence Committee on 7/8 (report is here), the bill contained two additional Iran-specific provisions: Sec. 2707, requiring a far-reaching report “on Iranian support of proxy forces in Syria and Lebanon” and Sec. 2708, requiring a detailed annual report “on Iranian expenditures supporting foreign military and terrorist activities.”
>As reported out of the Rules Committee (with, in effect, an amendment in the nature of a substitute), the bill contained Sec. 2709, “Expansion of scope of committee to counter active measures and report on establishment of Foreign Malign Influence Center,” expanding that scope to apply to (among others) Iran.
>As passed by the House on 7/17, the bill also includes the following Middle East-related elements:
- Section 508, inserted via H.Amdt.579, offered by Murphy (D-FL), and agreed to by voice vote, “Sense of Congress and report on Iranian efforts in Syria”
- ****Section 721, inserted via H. Amdt. 588, offered by Pence (R-IN) & Gallego (D-AZ), and agreed to by voice vote, “Expansion of availability of financial assets of Iran to victims of terrorism.” This measure seeks, in effect, to suspend sovereign immunity and impose U.S. extraterritorial sovereignty in order to seize Iranian funds that are beyond U.S. jurisdiction, in order to satisfy a U.S. court judgment against Iran on behalf of U.S. Marines killed or injured in the 1983 Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut. This is the same provision added last month to the Senate version of the FY20 NDAA (see my Twitter thread on it here, as well as coverage in the 5/17/19 edition of the Round-Up, back when it was introduced as free-standing bills in both chambers). In both cases it was framed as a non-controversial measure to achieve justice thus far denied to victims of terror, and adopted without any reflection or discussion regarding its foreign policy/national security implications. By attacking the notion of sovereign immunity, which is the foundation of international relations and the international system, this effort would put the U.S. at odds with the entire international community and put the U.S. citizens/companies at risk of reciprocal acts of seizure by foreign governments and foreign courts. It would also be a precedent and template for Congress legislating similar actions to satisfy U.S. court judgments, with the most obvious targeted being (but in no way limited to) the PA and PLO. And not surprisingly, this effort is almost certainly being driven and choreographed by the same politically- /ideologically-motivated lawfare forces behind ATCA (see here and here).
(ACCOUNTABILITY FOR AMIA ATTACK) H. Res. 441: Introduced 6/13 by Deutch (D-FL) and having 26 cosponsors, “A resolution condemning the attack on the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in July 1994 and expressing the concern of the United States regarding the continuing, 25-year-long delay in the resolution of this case and encouraging accountability for the attack.” Passed in House 7/17 by a voice vote. Floor consideration is here; Deutch press release is here.
(REMEMBERING THE AMIA ATTACK) S. Res. 277: Introduced 7/17 by Menendez (D-NJ) and 5 cosponsors, “A resolution remembering the 25th Anniversary of the bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and recommitting to efforts to uphold justice for the 85 victims of the attacks.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Press release is here.
(SANCTION TURKEY!) S. Res. 278 (text is here): Introduced 7/18 by Scott (R-FL) and Young (R-IN), “A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate regarding Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 air and missile defense system from the Russian Federation and its membership in NATO, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Scott’s press release is here.
(FBI: INVESTIGATE KHASHOGGI MURDER) Kaine letter to FBI Director: On 7/17, Kaine (D-VA) sent a letter to FBI Director Wray calling on him to open an investigation into “Saudi Arabia’s state sponsored execution” of Virginia resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Press release is here.
(KSA: RELEASE SAUDI WOMEN ACTIVISTS) Rubio-Frankel et al letter: On 7/15, Senator Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Frankel (D-FL) let a bipartisan, bicameral group of members on a letter urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to press the Saudi government to respect the fundamental human rights and freedoms of all Saudi citizens, and to immediately release the women’s rights activists. Press release is here.
As noted in Section 1, on 7/17 the House Foreign Affairs Committee (somewhat unexpectedly) marked up and passed HR 1837, aka, the The U.S.-Israel Cooperation Enhancement and Regional Security Act. This is the 2019 version of AIPAC’s 2018 conference ask, HR 5141 (which was also included in S. 1, which as of this writing still shows up on AIPAC’s website as a legislative priority). Given that the Senate has already passed the measure as part of S. 1, and given that the bill is bipartisan and supported by AIPAC and others, it seems very likely to pass into law imminently.
In terms of substance, the bill first and foremost is a huge grab-bag of goodies for Israel, some of them hugely significant, and none of which have received any real attention or debate. Indeed, short of a formal US-Israel mutual defense pact (talk of which does seem to be in the air), the bill includes pretty much anything and everything one could think of from Israel’s “wish list,” including significant additional funding for US-Israel programs ($55 million), endorsement of increases in security funding over the funding level stipulated in the MOU; and an additional $1 billion in weapons placed in the U.S. strategic stockpile in Israel (to which Israel has access). All of this is in addition to powerful new provisions that, in effect, will enable a U.S. president to provide unlimited (in quantity and type) defense articles and services to Israel — with no accountability to any U.S. law, no financial limits, and no oversight by Congress — in cases where he determines there is an ongoing or imminent military attack (with that term not defined). AIPAC’s memo laying out its view of these provisions is here.
Secondarily, the bill includes a “fix” for ATCA (see the 3/22/19 edition of the Round-Up for details; this provision is ignored in AIPAC’s analysis of the bill).
Below is a brief point-by-point run-through of the bill’s actual provisions.
Title I – Enhanced Cooperation Between the United States and Israel
Section 101: Encourages and authorizes the designation of a “Coordinator of United States-Israel Research and Development,” lays out the role of that position, and mandates a report on implementation of this recommendation.
Section 102: Authorizes US-Israel cooperation on directed energy capabilities, authorizes DOD financial support for specified activities under such cooperation, and mandates additional reporting to Congress.
Section 103: Requires the establishment of a grant program to support US-Israel cooperation on cybersecurity [ironic given Israel’s rather high-profile role in creating challenges to cybersecurity]
Section 104: Requires a “Report on potential benefits and impact to the United States of establishing a joint United States-Israel Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.”
Section 105: Encourages the Secretary of State to appoint a “Cyber attaché” at the U.S. Embassy in Israel.
Section 106: Urges that it be U.S. policy for USAID to “cooperate with Israel in order to advance common goals across a wide variety of sectors, including energy, agriculture and food security, democracy, human rights and governance, economic growth and trade, education, environment, global health and water and sanitation,” and authorizes the State Department to enter into an MOU with Israel to that effect.
Section 107: Amends existing law to authorize $2 million each year from 2020-2024 ($10 million total) “to finance cooperative projects among the United States, Israel, and developing countries that identify and support local solutions to address sustainability challenges relating to water resources, agriculture, and energy storage…”
Section 108: Articulates a sense of Congress that “the United States should help foster regional cooperation by financing and where appropriate, cooperating in, projects related to innovation and high-tech involving Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and other Middle Eastern countries wishing to participate,” and gives approval for the Secretary of State to “establish a joint cooperative program for the United States, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip to provide for cooperation in the fields of innovation and high-tech.” [***Note the implications of this for possible U.S. active support for Israeli projects in the West Bank, i.e., with settlers or projects that entrench Israeli control].
Section 109: States that, “cooperation between the United States and Israel for the purpose of research and development of energy sources would be in the national interests of not only the United States and Israel, but also of the other nations in the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa with similar natural gas finds.”
- Authorizes $4 million for 2020-2022 ($12 million total) to the Department of Energy “to carry out the activities of the United States-Israel Energy Center established pursuant to section 917(d) of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007”;
- states that “grants to promote covered energy projects conducted by or in conjunction with the United States-Israel Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation should continue to be funded at not less than $2,000,000 annually…;
- authorizes $2 million for 2020-2022 ($6 million total) for U.S.-Israel cooperation on energy, water, homeland security, agriculture, and alternative fuel technologies;
- calls for an annual US-Israel dialogue “to implement the 2016 Memorandum of Cooperation signed by the Secretary of Transportation and the Israeli Minister of Transportation”;
- states that the NSAA Administrator shall continue work with the Israel Space Agency “to identify and cooperatively pursue peaceful space exploration and science initiatives in areas of mutual interest, taking all appropriate measures to protect sensitive information, intellectual property, trade secrets, and economic interests of the United States”;
- expands the United States-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund, authorizes $7 million per year for 2020-2022 ($21 million total) for that purpose, and requires a report;
- requires a report to Congress on “research and development cooperation with international partners, such as the State of Israel, in the area of desalination technology…”;
- authorizes $2 million annually for 2020-2022 ($6 million total) “to establish a bilateral cooperative program with Israel for the development of health technologies, including health technologies…with an emphasis on collaboratively advancing the use of technology, personalized medicine, and data in relation to aging” and requires a report;
- articulates support for greater US-Israel economic cooperation, and states that the President “should regularize and expand existing forums of economic dialogue with Israel and foster both public and private sector participation.”
TITLE II—Security assistance for Israel
Section 201: Lays out the current MOU.
Section 202: States that, “It is the policy of the United States to provide assistance to the Government of Israel in order to help enable Israel to defend itself by itself and develop long-term capacity, primarily through the acquisition of advanced capabilities that are available from the United States.”
Section 203: Requires the President to “establish and update as appropriate contingency plans to provide Israel with defense articles and services that are determined by the Secretary of Defense to be necessary for the defense of Israel” and to brief Congress on these plans
***Section 204: Under this provision, if the President determines Israel is “under an existing or imminent threat of military attack,” he has the authority to transfer literally any defense-related article or service to Israel without any limitation under law or any oversight from Congress (as in, it entirely waives the Arms Export Control Act). In addition, in terms of funding for these transfers, this provision legislates that, neither the MOU nor any other law limits how much the President can give to Israel. The only condition on this unfettered transfer of military goods/services to Israel is the requirement that the President notify Congress “as soon as practicable” after the fact. Nothing in the provision lays out what is required in order for the President to make a determination of an “existing or imminent threat of military attack”; given the current President’s recent declaration of an “emergency” in order to transfer military goods and services without Congressional oversight – a declaration that has raised serious questions in Congress – this provision is all the more remarkable.
Section 205: Amends U.S. law (and hollows out the purpose of the MOU) by legislating that the $3.3 billion in annual security assistance for Israel is officially a floor, not a ceiling (changes “equal to” to “not less than”).
Section 206: Authorizes a U.S.-Israel joint assessment with respect to the provision of precision guided munitions for use by Israel, to examine what is “necessary for Israel to combat Hezbollah in the event of a sustained armed confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah”; what is “necessary for Israel in the event of a sustained armed confrontation with other armed groups and terrorist organizations such as Hamas”; how much Israel is willing to spend on acquiring PGMs; US plans to assist Israel for “sustained armed confrontations” with Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as the ability of the U.S. to resupply Israel in the event of such confrontations.
Section 207: Authorized transfer to Israel of precision guided munitions “from reserve stocks for Israel in such quantities as necessary for legitimate self-defense of Israel and is otherwise consistent with the purposes and conditions for such transfers under the Arms Export Control Act,” with required certification to Congress (“except in the case of an emergency as determined by the President”) that such transfer doesn’t undermine U.S. military readiness, is “necessary for Israel to counter the threat of rockets in a timely fashion,” and “is in the national security interest of the United States.”
Section 208: States that “the President should prescribe procedures for the rapid acquisition and deployment of precision guided munitions for United States counterterrorism missions, or to assist an ally of the United States, including Israel, that is subject to direct missile threat.”
****Section 209: Extends authority for the War Reserves Stockpile through 2025, and authorizes annual increases of up to $200 million for 2021-2025 (adding $1 billion)
Section 210: Pushes for Israel to be included “in the list of countries eligible for the strategic trade authorization exception under section 740.20 (c) (1) of title 15, Code of Federal Regulations section…”
Section 211: Extends existing loan guarantees to Israel through 2025.
TITLE III—Justice for United States Victims of Palestinian Terrorism (AKA, an effort to tweak ATCA)
This section seeks to get around some of the problems created by ATCA — which left the PA with the choice between refusing to allow any U.S. aid to Palestinians at all, or allowing what little aid is on offer (in the wake of Trump Administration spite cuts and legally required cuts under the Taylor Force Act) to flow, but then face possibility of lawsuits in U.S. courts suing them out of existence. It does so (a) by creating a whole new law making “Justice for United States Victims of Palestinian Terrorism” is a recognized priority of the U.S. government; (b) by deleting from existing law the clauses of ATCA (that make the acceptance of U.S. existence a hook for lawsuits; and (c) by replacing those clauses with a new one that uses the threat of lawsuits as a cudgel to prevent the Palestinians in the future – if there ever might be a future in which the U.S, would allow the PLO office to re-open in Washington, and in which the PLO would ever agree to do so pursuant to the waiving of a law that deems it a terrorist group –from disobeying the will of the U.S. and Israel at the United Nations (as in, if the PLO is operating in DC under the waiver, and it “makes any new application in order to obtain the same standing as member states or full membership as a state in the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof outside an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians,” then the law says that, once again, that they are automatically agreeing that they can be sued in US courts.
7/24: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Reviewing Authorities for the Use of Military Force.” Scheduled witnesses are: David Hale, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Bureau of Political Affairs; and Marik String, Acting Legal Advisor, Office of the Legal Advisor.
7/16: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Iraq: A Crossroads of U.S. Policy.” The witnesses were acting Assistant Principal Deputy Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Joan Polaschik (testimony) and Michael Mulroy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East (testimony). Video is here.
UPDATE: Transcript of Omar (D-MN)’s statement in the House Foreign Affairs Committee markup on 7/17:
Thank You Mr. Chairman. What are we doing to achieve peace? I believe that simple question should guide every vote we take in this committee. It was the question that guided Prime Minister Rabin in 1993, it was the question that guided President Carter, President Sadat, and Prime Minister Begin in 1978. It should continue to guide our approach to Israel-Palestine conflict.
I believe the best way to guarantee self-determination for both the Israeli and Palestinian people is to go through a two-state solution based upon international recognized borders. This is why I proudly supported Mr. Lowenthal’s resolution to affirm what has been the official bipartisan US policy across two decades and has been supported by each of the most recent Israel and Palestinian leaders as well as the consensus of Israel’s security establishment. That solution is a two-state solution.
But if we really believe in a two-state solution we must acknowledge the obvious – which is that one group of people currently has statehood while the other lives under indefinite military occupation of their land. This is not my definition of it; this is the definition of the conservative Israeli leader Ariel Sharon who in 2003 said, and I quote, “to hold 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation in my opinion is a very bad thing for us and for them. This is occupation (he said). You might not like this word but it is really an occupation.” I end quote.
I believe that truly achieving peace means ending this occupation. And ending the occupation means being honest when Israel takes steps to undermine the cause of peace. So when Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says, and I quote, he is “more committed to settlement than any in Israel’s history,” we should honestly say that it is an impediment to peace. There are consequences to these actions. When Netanyahu vows to make the occupation permanent by annexing Palestinian land in the West Bank at the same time we are providing him with billions of dollars in military aid, we should say: there are consequences to these actions. And in previous times, Bush and Reagan have said that.
But, as in all diplomacy, truly pursuing peace isn’t just about punishing bad behavior. We must support efforts to end the occupation and achieve two-state solution. I believe firmly that the path to peace does not lie in a violent means. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” We should condemn in the strongest terms violence that perpetuates the occupation, whether it is perpetuated by Israel, Hamas, or individuals.
But we if we are going to condemn violent means of resisting the occupation, we cannot also condemn non-violent means. We cannot simultaneously say we want peace then openly oppose peaceful means to hold our allies accountable. It is precisely when people say when people feel hopeful [sic], when people feel that non-violence does not work, that their voices won’t be heard, that they turn towards violence.
This week I introduced a resolution with civil rights leader, our colleague John Lewis, and Rashida Talib, who know the importance of non-violence movements. It recognizes the proud history of boycott movements in this country dating back to the Boston Tea Party. We should honor these movements and that history and we should honor our commitment to the principles that say we must hold our friends to the same standards as we hold our adversaries.
I understand and appreciate the bipartisan nature and history of this committee. In fact, there are two bills today that I am co-sponsoring with Republicans, and I have co-sponsored the Sri Lankan resolution with Mr. Johnson and the resolution with Mr. Zeldin. I am also proud to sponsor Mr. Lowenthal’s resolution that we just voted on and excited that every single person was on board on our side. I will not be supporting the en bloc package today, Mr. Chairman. I thank you and I yield back.
(NOTE: For my own sanity I am not digging around trying to document every nasty, evil, horrible statement made in recent days about people who boycott Israel/settlements, people who defend free speech including on Israel, or Ilhan Omar/Rashida Tlaib et al. It is all out there for everyone to see and there is only so much misery I am going to subject myself to in writing this report – like Trump stating that “”I hear [Ilhan] Omar put in a sanctions bill against Israel, and other things beyond sanctions. So when I hear that — you just can’t talk about our country that way.”).
Hawley (R-MS) 7/19: Tweet – “Ilhan Omar pushes anti-Israel resolution & says boycotting Israel is like boycotting Nazi Germany? When will the Left condemn this rank anti-Semitism and take some responsibility?”
Rubio (R-FL) 7/19: Rubio Welcomes U.S. Sanctions Targeting a Senior Hizballah Operative Plotting Terrorist Attacks in the Western Hemisphere
Menendez (D-NJ) 7/18: ***PHOTO RELEASE*** Senators Menendez and Risch Meet with Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz MK of Israel [as a reminder, Minister Katz opposes the two-state solution and is actively pushing for annexation of West Bank land]; press release on the meeting is here
Luria (D-VA) and Gottheimer (D-NJ) 7/18: Reps. Luria, Gottheimer Praise Unanimous Committee Passage of Anti-BDS Resolution [not sure they understand what “unanimous” means, given that at least 1 committee member stated her opposition]
Babin (R-TX) 7/18: Tweet – “The Left’s ongoing attack on Israel is shameful but not surprising. Boycotting Israel is like boycotting Nazi Germany? Absurd. Will the Dem majority ever stand up against anti-Semitism? Are there consequences for what Dems say, or only for Republicans?”
McConnell (R-KY) 7/18: Bemoaning Democrats who are antisemites and hate Israel, as proven by their unwillingness to pass unconstitional anti-boycott legislation (S. 1)
Scalise (R-LA) 7/18: Pushing Hoyer on why Dems won’t move House companion to S. 1.
Gohmert (R-TX) 7/18: Blasting Omar’s (D-MN) right to boycott resolution – “But there has also been news this week that we may have a very strong anti-Israeli resolution filed. Why not? The majority doesn’t ever condemn specific anti-Semitism by Members here in the House; so why not file a resolution? …That resolution supports the boycott against Israel; even though the people it supports, that resolution would support, would be the very people that have said they want Israel wiped off the map. They want no Israel from the river to the sea. They want it gone. They want a genocide. They want the Jews wiped out, and that is a goal. It was a goal of Arafat. It is why, when Ehud Barak, as prime minister of Israel, when President Clinton was twisting his arm so strongly, basically offered Arafat virtually everything he wanted.”
LaMalfa (R-CA) 7/18: bashing Omar’s (D-MN) for action to “attack our close ally Israel with a BDS Resolution.”
Zeldin (R-NY) 7/17: At Foreign Affairs Committee Vote on Reso Opposing BDS, Rep. Zeldin Immediately Responds to Rep. Omar’s Tirade Against Israel and Propping Up of BDS [folks, take the time to watch Omar’s comments, and then Zeldin’s, to see for yourself which of them engaged in a “tirade”]
Scott (R-FL) 7/17: Tweet re: right to boycott resolution – “If this isn’t clear enough I don’t know what is. @Ilhan’s actions are a clear example of anti-Semitism. It’s disgusting. Our relationship with Israel is as strong as it’s ever been. And it’s going to stay that way.”
Soto (D-FL) 7/19: Reps. Soto, Peters, Bilirakis – Congressional Delegation Report [summary mentions they went to West Bank but report makes no reference to any meetings with Palestinians]
Murphy (D-CT) 7/16: MURPHY URGES AGAINST UNAUTHORIZED WAR WITH IRAN
Engel (D-NY) and McCaul (R-TX) 7/12: Engel & McCaul Statement on Turkey’s Receipt of S-400