FMEP Legislative Round-Up: February 2, 2024


1. Bills, Resolutions
2. Letters
3. The Campaign to Kill UNRWA Heats Up
4. Hearings & Markups
5. Selected Media & Press releases/Statements

New from FMEP


1. Bills & Resolutions (Except related to UNRWA)

(BARRING TERRORISTS – & PLO “MEMBERS” & THEIR FAMILIES – FROM ENTERING THE US) HR 6679: Introduced 12/7/23 by McClintock (R-CA) and having no cosponsors, the “No Immigration Benefits for Hamas Terrorists Act,” aka, “To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act with respect to aliens who carried out, participated in, planned, financed, supported, or otherwise facilitated the attacks against Israel.” Reported out of the Judiciary Committee 1/25/24; passed by the House 1/31/24 by a vote of 422-2 with 1 voting present. No votes were Bush (D-MO) and Tlaib (D-MI); voting present was Ramirez (D-IL). NOTE: As the title suggests, this legislation amends existing law to bar entry to the US to people who participated in the October 7th Hamas attacks on Israel (a category that includes people who are not members of Hamas). But not mentioned in the title: this bill also expands current law to bar entry to the U.S. of ANY MEMBER of the PLO — an organization that NOBODY has argued had anything to do with the October 7th attacks. If passed into law, this bill would in effect mean that every Palestinian associated with the PLO (including any member of Fatah, the party of Mahmoud Abbas), as well as their spouses and children, would be barred from entering the US without a special exception made by the Secretary of State and notified to Congress. So yes, in the name of punishing Hamas (and Islamic Jihad) for the October 7th attacks, the House has voted in effect to impose new, far-reaching sanctions against the PLO and Fatah. Floor discussion of the bill is here. Note that Democrats mischaracterized the bill as “redundant” – which is true with respect to barring entry to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. It is NOT true with respect to expanding sanctions on the PLO. That is an extraordinary expansion of an archaic, mindlessly punitive piece of law (adopted before the Oslo process and never repealed, because Congress never, ever, repeals anti-Palestinian measures, no matter how circumstance may change. If passed into law will have hugely damaging impact on the ability of a universe of Palestinians, who will find themselves suddenly treated as terrorists under US immigration law, for the crime of being associated with an organization that not only is NOT a US-designated FTO and is not accused of involved in Oct 7 or any other terrorist attacks, but that has been a U.S. partner (in a relationship that is sometimes cooler, sometimes warmer) for the past 30 years. Just stunning (but actually makes sense for those in Congress who are already thinking of a “day after” the current war on Gaza, and foreseeing a new Middle East order in which Israel no longer sees a need for Palestinian partners. Also see: Palestine slams passage of bill by American Congress to ban entry of PLO members to US – Previously, only PLO officials could not enter US but current bill extends ban to all members (Andalou 2/1/24); Bush, Tlaib vote against bill barring Oct. 7 attackers from the U.S. (Jewish Insider 1/31/24); Tlaib, Cori Bush vote to allow Oct. 7 attackers into US (Jewish News Syndicate 2/1/24 – in headline that is 100% inaccurate, since current law already bans Hamas & PIJ members from entering US]

(EVERY DAY IS A GOOD DAY TO ATTACKING THE PALESTINIANS AUTHORITY!) S. 3707 [text]: Introduced 1/31/24 by Kennedy (R-LA) and Paul (R-KY), “A bill to require the Secretary of State to submit annual reports reviewing the educational material used by the Palestinian Authority in schools, and for other purposes,” aka, the “the Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.  Also see: press release – Kennedy introduces bill countering antisemitism in Palestinian classrooms NOTE: This is the Senate version of HR 3266, introduced 5/11/23 by Schneider (D-IL) and 34 cosponsors and passed by the House 11/1/23 by voice vote. As I noted in the 11/3/23 edition of the Round-Up, “This is legislation that in effect codifies the argument that Palestinians’ negative feelings about and toward Israel/Israelis/Zionism are caused — apparently solely, since no other causes are even hinted at — by textbooks that teach them to feel that way. As opposed to the analysis (which I’m sure backers of this bill would deem antisemitic) that the feeling are the result of, oh, I don’t know, THE WAY PALESTINIANS – INCLUDING KIDS – ARE TREATED BY ISRAEL/ISRAELIS EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIVES, WITH NO HOPE FOR EVER ACHIEVING RIGHTS, OR FREEDOM, OR DIGNITY. This bill requires a report to Congress reviewing all aspects of Palestinian curricula to assess how well the education system is doing in teaching Palestinian kids tolerance toward the peace/state that is systematically violating their rights. The fact that the House passed this bill [and now the Senate is introducing this bill] at a moment when Israel is slaughtering 1000s [at this point more than 13,000] of kids in Gaza (saving them I guess from becoming intolerant of Israel), when schools in Gaza are being used for Palestinians to take refuge in (and even then being bombed by Israel), and when in the West Bank Palestinian towns are on lockdown as settlers – supported and in some cases joined by IDF soldiers – are marauding through villages and forcing their residents to flee…”  And for  more than 3 months of the non-stop slaugher, including of children, Congress has done NOTHING to try to stop it, and most of Congress has actively defending Israel and supported sending Israel more weapons to do even more… Truly there is no bottom.

(MORE $$ FOR ISRAEL SUPPLEMENTAL) HR 7113: Introduced 1/29/24 by Moskowitz (R-FL), “Making emergency supplemental appropriations in line with the President’s request in response to the ongoing attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty by Russia and in response to the attacks in Israel for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2024, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Appropriations, and the Committee on the Budget. For Israel, the bill provides $10.6 billion in emergency funding for Israel (broken down below); it would also suspends a provision of current law to allow Israel to draw unlimited supplies from US stockpiles in 2024:

  • operation and maintenance, defense-wide — $4,400,000,000
  • procurement of ammunition, army — $801,400,000
  • procurement, defense-wide — $4,000,000,000 (Iron Dome & David’s Sling)
  • defense production act purchases — $198,600,000
  • research, development, test and evaluation, defense-wide — $1,200,000,000 (Iron Beam)

(GAZA WAR? MEH. NEVER STOP PUSHING NORMALIZATION!) HR 7155: Introduced 1/31/24 by Harshbarger (R-TN) and 6 bipartisan cosponsors, “To provide for the establishment, within the Food and Drug Administration, of an Abraham Accords Bureau to promote and facilitate cooperation between the Food and Drug Administration and entities in Abraham Accords countries wishing to work with the agency in order to develop and sell products in the United States, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.


2. Letters (except related to UNRWA)

War on Gaza

Targeting Free Speech




3. The Campaign to Kill UNRWA Heats Up

This week saw an all-0ut assault on UNRWA on Capitol Hill, including new legislation, a hearing (scheduled before Israel’s allegations that 12 UNRWA staff took place in 10/7 attacks were made public), letters, statements, & publicly-reported lobbying of members of Congress by Israeli officials. As a reminder: Congress has been gunning for UNRWA for more than a decade. From me: Congressional Attacks on UNRWA: A History (2000-2018); Taking Issues “Off the Table” – First Jerusalem, Now Refugees (Huffington Post 1/5/18); Legislating the Refugee Problem (Daily Beast 5/24/12)

(a) Legislation

  • (DEFUND UNRWA, PUNISH ALL WHO HAVE EVER BEEN AFFILIATED WITH UNRWA BY DEFINING UNRWA AS A TERRORIST ORG, & REVOKE TAX-EXEMPT STATUS OF UNRWA USA) S. 3723: Introduced 2/1/24 by Cotton (R-IN) and Cruz (R-TX), the “‘Defund United Nations Relief and Works Agency Act of 2024,” aka “A bill to prohibit funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Finance. NOTE: This bill goes far beyond blocking US funding to UNRWA to attack/punish anyone who has ever worked for/with UNRWA, and to seek to impede private citizens from supporting UNRWA. It would: (a) bar any U.S. funding for UNRWA; (b) ban admittance to the U.S. of anyone who “is, or has ever been, affiliated with UNRAW” and revoke visas already issues to such people, by changing current law such that henceforth “any officer, official, representative, or spokesperson” of UNRWA would, by definition, be considered “to be engaged in a terrorist activity” (along with the same categories of people working for the PLO) – with the resulting sanctions also applying to spouses and children; and (c) revoke the tax exempt status of UNRWA USA.  Also see: press release – Cotton, Cruz: UNRWA Should Not Receive Another Dime of U.S. Funding
  • (NO US $$  TO THE UN UNTIL UNRWA IS DEAD & BURIED!) S. 3717 (text): Introduced 1/31/24 by Scott (R-SC) and Cruz (R-TX), “To prohibit United States voluntary contributions to the United Nations.” The legislation (after several pages of whereas clauses attacking UNRWA) states: “No funds may be provided as a voluntary or assessed contribution of the United States to the United Nations,  including any organ, agency, or entity of the United Nations until (1) UNRWA is abolished; (2) the Secretary of State certifies to the appropriate congressional committees that the that the United Nations has completed appropriate counter-terrorism vetting for all United Nations employees and contractors operating in the original jurisdiction of the UNRWA; and (3) the Secretary of State certifies to the appropriate congressional committees that the United Nations, including staff and facilities receiving United Nations funding, do not teach, promote, or include in materials, such as textbooks and other instructional materials, any content that promotes anti-semitism or encourages violence or intolerance toward other countries or ethnic groups.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Also see: press release – Senators Scott, Cruz Introduce Bill to Cut Off U.S. Funding to the UN Until UNRWA is Abolished
  • (DEATH TO UNRWA! ALSO SECURE THE BORDER FROM BROWN INVADERS!) S.3708 (text): Introduced 1/31/24 by Kennedy (R-LA) and 8 Republican cosponsors, “A bill to reprogram Federal funds appropriated for UNRWA to construct the southwest border wall and to prohibit future funding for UNRWA.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Also see: Kennedy press release – Kennedy authors bill to defund pro-Hamas UN group and divert funds to build border wall
  • (DEATH TO UNRWA! NO MORE PALESTINE REFUGEES!) HR 7111 (text): Introduced 1/29/24 by Mast (R-FL),  “The UNRWA Elimination Act,” aka, “To establish the policy of the United States that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East should be disbanded completely, and for other purposes,” aka (or at least is should be) the “End the Palestine Refugee Issue Once and For All by Killing UNRWA and Declaring that Palestine Refugees Aren’t Refugees Anymore – yeah, that should do it – and the replacing UNRWA with humanitarian aid provided through only Israel-approved/controlled mechanisms, designed to make sure that humanitarian aid is used as a tool to control Palestinians (who are still refugees notwithstanding Israel insisting nobody call them that), and that education is geared to teaching Palestinians to LOVE Israel and blame themselves for everything that has happened to them from 1948 to the present.” NOTE: This bill would not only ban U.S. assistance to UNRWA, but would also make foreign aid to any country conditional on that country supporting the policy that: UNRWA “should be disbanded completely” and “all refugee services and responsibilities in the West Bank and Gaza strip should be transferred to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Also see: Congressman pushes ban on tax dollars to Hamas-tied UN agency (Washington Examiner 1/29/24)
  • (DEATH TO UNRWA! NO MORE PALESTINE REFUGEES!) HR 7122 (text): Introduced 1/29/24 by Smith (R-NJ) and 3 Republican cosponsors, the “Stop Support for UNRWA Act of 2024“, aka, “To prohibit aid that will benefit Hamas, and for other purposes.” This bill states: “The United States may not make any voluntary or involuntary contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (referred to in this Act as ‘‘UNRWA’’), to any successor or related entity, or to the regular budget of the United Nations for the support of UNRWA or a successor entity.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Also see: Republican lawmaker introduces bill to block all funds for UN Palestinian aid agency (The Hill 1/30/24); Smith press release 1/30/24: Smith bill prohibits US funding for UNRWA; Smith co-chairs third congressional hearing exposing the blatant antisemitism of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)

Other anti-UNRWA bills previously introduced in this Congress (and thus still in play):

  • HR 552: the “No Tax Dollars for the United Nation’s Immigration Invasion Act,” aka “To prohibit United States contributions to the United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and for other purposes.”
  • HR 1102/S. 431, the “UNRWA Accountability and Transparency Act” – a bill that: attacks UNRWA (the organization); attacks Palestinian refugees (legislating them out of existence); delegitimizes Palestinian history/narrative/rights (by targeting the mere idea of the right of return); attacks non-violent protest of Israel via boycotts of either Israel or settlements (citing an Obama-era trade law to conflate the two); and legislates/weaponizes a definition of “antisemitism” that explicitly conflates criticism of Israel with antisemitism (the IHRA definition of antisemitism.
  • S. 3493: “A bill to require certification prior to obligation of funds for United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and for other purposes.

(b) Letters

(c) Hearing

January 30, 2023: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability and Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations convened a joint witch-hunt/show trial/publicity stunt masquerading as a hearing entitled, “UNRWA Exposed: Examining the Agency’s Mission and Failures.” Witnesses for the prosecution were: Richard Goldberg, Foundation for Defense of Democracies (statement); Marcus Sheff, IMPACT-se (statement); and Hillel Neuer, UN Watch (statement). The sole witness for the defense: Mara Rudman, University of Virginia, Miller Center (statement). And yes, it was as bad as anticipated (though Rudman did try to inject facts/reality into the proceedings, even if most members appeared at best uninterested and more often contemptuous of facts/reality that did not comport with their judgment, made in advance of the show trial, that UNRWA is GUILTY ON ALL CHARGES, and anyone defending UNRWA is, obviously, antisemitic and pro-Hamas).  Also see: video

Selected media coverage of hearing:

Reminder of past hearing:

November 8, 2023: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations held a hearing entitled, “United Nations’ Bigotry Towards Israel: UNRWA Anti-semitism Poisons Palestinian Youth” [a title that advertised in advance that the hearing was going to be nothing but a hit-job on UNRWA]. Originally this hearing was to have included a panel featuring a single witness, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan (who prior to the hearing was on the record with the position that UNRWA – by its very existence- “perpetuates” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has attacked the Biden Administration for funding UNRWA, arguing among other things that “We believe that this U.N. agency for so-called ‘refugees’ should not exist in its current format“). That panel was apparently scrapped. Witnesses at the hearing were: anti-UNRWA campaigner Hillel Neuer of UN Watch (testimony); longtime UNRWA antagonist Jonathan Schanzer, FDD (testimony);  and Jonathan Lincoln, Interim Director of the Center for Jewish Civilization (testimony). Also see: hearing video

(d) Other selected statements & press coverage


4. Hearings & Markups

February 6, 2024: The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a markup of various measures including: HR 6603, the “No Technology for Terror Act,” aka, “To apply foreign-direct product rules to Iran.

January 30, 2024: The House Committee on Transportation and Reform held a hearing entitled, “Menace on the Red Sea: Securing Shipping Against Threats in the Red Sea.” Witnesses were: Bud Darr, Executive Vice President of Maritime Policy and Government Affairs, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) (Testimony);  Ian Ralby, Chief Executive Officer, I.R. Consilium (Testimony); Jonathan Gold, Vice President of Supply Chain and Customs Policy, National Retail Federation (Testimony); and David Heindel, President, Seafarers International Union (Testimony). Also see: hearing video;


5. Selected Media & Press releases/statements


Attacking Free Speech Critical of Israel (& delegitimizing progressive grassroots)

Israel War on Gaza & Biden Policy

Israel Aid