FMEP Legislative Round-Up: June 16, 2023


1.Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2. Hearings & Events
3. Media & Reports
4. Members on the Record (Palestine/Palestinians)
5. Members on the Record (Israel)
6. Members on the Record (Iran)
7. Members on the Record (other Mideast countries)

New from FMEP:

Of note: This week the Republican Study Group issued a report – Protecting America’s Economic Security – Fiscal Year 2024 Budget. This report includes extensive language and policy recommendations related to Iran and the Middle East, including a laundry list of pending legislation the RSC budget supports.


1. Bills, Resolutions & letters

(CREATE US SPECIAL ENVOY FOR NORMALIZATION) HR 3099: Introduced 5/5/23 by Lawler (R-NY) and Torres (D-NY), “To establish in the Department of State the position of Special Envoy for the Abraham Accords, and for other purposes.” Marked up in the House Foreign Affairs Committee 5/16/23 (see the 5/19/23 edition of the Round-Up for mark-up details). Brought to the floor for a vote under suspension of the rules on 6/12/23 and passed 6/13/12 by a roll call vote of 413-13.

Also see:

  • Vote details: “no” votes on the resolution came from – Bowman (D-NY), Bush (D-MO), García (D-IL), Lee (D-CA — who says she voted against the bill by mistake), Massie (R-KY), McCollum (D-MN), McCormick (R-GA – who says he voted against the bill to “combat bureaucracy” – also see his floor statement explaining his vote, including expressing his strong support for the Abraham Accords), Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Omar (D-MN), Pressley (D-MA), Ramirez (D-IL), and Tlaib (D-MI)
  • Floor statements: Read in the Congressional Record 6/12/23 statements/speeches extolling the Abraham Accords and the imperative of peace  from McCaul (R-TX), Lawler (R-NY), Torres (D-NY), and Meeks (D-NY),  in speeches where the word “Palestinian” occurs exactly twice – once in an empty statement of support for peace, the other time to bash Palestinians for saying “no” to peace.
  • Tweets/statements in support of HR 3099: Lawler (R-NY), Lawler (R-NY), Lawler (R-NY), Lawler (R-NY), D’Esposito (R-NY), McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Gottheimer (D-NY), McCormick (R-GA), McCormick (R-GA), Moran (R-TX), Yakym (R-IN), LaLota (R-NY)
  • Israeli Govt Weighs In: Thank you/congratulations tweet from Israeli Ambassador in Washington DC Michael Herzog
  • Media: Haaretz, Times of Israel, Jewish Insider, Jerusalem Post, i24 News, Jewish News Syndicate, The New Arab, Middle East Monitor,
  • Explanation of opposition:
    • McCollum (D-MN) – “The Abraham Accords fails to address the plight of millions of Palestinians who are working to build a peaceful future and who have been abandoned by Congress and the broader international community.Peace in the region can only be achieved by respecting human rights, especially the rights of children. By turning a blind eye to the ongoing mistreatment of Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation, Congress only contributes to the continuation of injustice. I enter into the record my June 2016 letter to then-President Obama urging him to appoint a Special Envoy for Palestinian Youth to encourage diplomatic engagement with the Government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and human rights groups in the region to address the serious human rights abuses that have been well documented against Palestinian children who are living under Israeli military occupation. I believe no U.S. military aid to Israel should be used to enable or support the military detention and torture of Palestinian children, the demolition of Palestinian homes, or the annexation of Palestinian lands. The American people expect that all children, including Palestinian children, are treated with dignity and have their human rights respected. If the United States is to play a role in ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we must end human rights abuses against Palestinian children. My calls for a Special Envoy for Palestinian Youth have gone unanswered. Enabling an ambassadorial level of U.S. representation for a Special Envoy for the Trump-era Abraham Accords, while ignoring the need for a Special Envoy for Palestinian Youth, is an affront to all those seeking to end the human rights abuses of Palestinian young people living under military occupation. Peace in the region will only be possible if we build a brighter future for Israelis and Palestinians alike. Therefore, I voted no on H.R. 3099.

(MORE US $$ FOR/COOPERATION WITH ISRAEL) HR 4076: Introduced 6/13/23 by Pappas (D-NH) and 56 bipartisan cosponsors, “To authorize funding for a bilateral cooperative program with Israel for the development of health technologies.” Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Also see:

(WE <HEART> IHRA DEFINITION OF ANTISEMITISM) S. Res. 254 (text): Introduced 6/15/23 by Scott (R-FL) and 4 Republican cosponsors, “A resolution unequivocally condemning antisemitism and lauding the working definition of antisemitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.” Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. And for folks who STILL don’t believe that the sole goal behind promoting the IHRA definition is targeting criticism/critics of Israel, maybe you’ll believe the backer of this bill, who could not be saying what the is doing/why more loudly & clearly: Sen. Rick Scott Leads Resolution to Clearly Label Attacks Against Israel as Antisemitism

(FY24 NDAA) HR 2670: On 6/12/23, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rogers (R-AL) released the base text of the FY24 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – aka the Chairman’s Mark. This text includes exstensive annual funding for Israel and US-Israel programs (to be covered in detail in a future edition of the Round-Up, as this bill advances).

(TARGETING IRAN) S. 1981: Introduced 6/14/23 by Graham (R-SC), Menendez (D-NJ) and Blumenthal (D-CT),  “A bill to modify the Iran Nuclear Weapons Capability and Terrorism Monitoring Act of 2022.” Referred to the Select Committee on Intelligence. Also see press release: Graham, Menendez, Blumenthal Introduce Iranian Enrichment Monitoring Act of 2023

(DECREASE US RELIANCE ON BAD GUYS INCL IRAN) S. 2031: Introduced 6/15/23 by Romney (R-UT) and 2 bipartisan cosponsors, “A bill to strengthen the national security of the United States by decreasing the reliance of the Department of Defense on critical minerals from the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, and other geostrategic competitors and adversaries of the United States, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

(TARGETING IRAN FOR PERSECUTION OF BAHA’I) H. Res. 492: Introduced 6/9/23 by Schakowsky (D-IL) and 28 original cosponsors (bipartisan), “Condemning the Government of Iran’s state-sponsored persecution of the Baha’i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Also see:

(ISIS/SYRIA) HR 4078: Introduced 6/13/23 by Phillips (D-MN) and 3 bipartisan cosponsors, “To amend the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 to modify the establishment of a coordinator for detained ISIS members and relevant displaced populations in Syria, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(LIBYA) H. J. Res. 70: Introduced 6/12/23 by Gosar (R-AZ) and Greene (R-GA), to “Relating to a national emergency declared by the President on February 25, 2011”. Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Also see:

  • Gosar Twitter thread 6/13/23: “I recently introduced H.J. Res. 70, legislation terminating the national emergency related to Libya declared by Obama on February 25, 2011…”


(WARNING BIDEN ADMIN RE IRAN DIPLOMACY) McCaul letter to Biden: On 6/15/23, HFAC Chair McCaul (R-TX) sent a letter to President Biden noting that he is “disturbed by recent revelations that the Administration has reengaged inproximity talks’ with the Iranian regime, and that the results of these discussions have included the apparent greenlighting of sizable payments to Iran.” McCaul suggests that this development “calls into question your Administration’s intent to follow the law and submit any agreement with Iran to Congress, as required by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.” The letter goes on to assert: “Rather than using United States diplomatic leverage and military deterrence to dissuade Iran from engaging in these malign activities, this Administration is rewarding Iran’s bad behavior in exchange for a false promise of deescalation.” McCaul also complains that “the House Foreign Affairs Committee has had a request pending with the State Department since April 11 that Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley testify before the Committee, which the State Department has not fulfilled. Meanwhile, the Administration is secretly negotiating this reckless lessforless arrangement. This continued lack of transparency and consultation with Congress is deeply disturbing.” McCaul concludes: “I urge the Administration to remember that U.S. law requires that any agreement, arrangement, or understanding with Iran needs to be submitted to Congress pursuant to INARA.

Also see:

(SENATE INVESTIGATION INTO PGA/LIV DEAL) Wyden letter to PGA leadership: On 6/15/23, Sen. Wyden (D-OR), per his press release, “opened a wide-ranging investigation into the ‘merger’ agreement between the PGA Tour and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).” The letter seeks far-reaching information about the deal, including “An assessment of the deal’s implications for national security (due to the PGA Tour’s potential ownership interests in real estate near U.S. military facilities or sensitive manufacturing facilities), data privacy and censorship of individuals involved in the Tour, given the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s record of brutal human rights violations and disregard for the rule of law in the U.S. and around the world.” Wyden’s press release also noted that Wyden announced “his intent to introduce legislation revoking the Saudi PIF’s special tax exemption that applies to certain types of investment income by foreign governments and sovereign wealth funds. This penalty could significantly impact the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, which has an estimated value of more than $600 billion.”

(OPPOSE UNGA REQUEST FOR ICJ ADVISORY OPINION ON ISRAEL) Gottheimer et al letter to SecState Blinken: On 6/13/23, Rep. Gottheimer (D-NY) led a letter, cosigned by 34 House colleagues (bipartisan), to SecState Blinken opposing the biased, one-sided request to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) by the UN GeneralAssembly (UNGA) for an anti-Israel advisory opinion.” The signers characterize the request as “but the latest in a series of escalating attacks on Israel in the UN system, initiated by the Palestinian Authority, to unfairly and disproportionately single out the Jewish State” and urge Blinken to “vigorously support Israel as it defends itself against this proceeding.” Specifically the letter agues: “In keeping with longstanding U.S. policy that the UN is not the appropriate venue for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we ask the Department to submit a strong brief to the ICJ opposing an advisory opinion against Israel. That brief should both procedurally (by urging the ICJ to decline the case) and substantively (on the merits) back Israel, its right to self-defense, and a negotiated solution to the conflict. In addition, we request the Department seek similar briefs from other countries – including the 26 countries who voted against involving the ICJ in this matter. 4 Finally, where appropriate, other countries’ representatives should be reminded that the US takes into consideration support for U.S. positions at the UN in our bilateral relationships.” Also see: Lawmakers push State Department to strongly oppose International Court of Justice investigation of Israel (Jewish Insider 6/14/23)

(CHINA SUPPORT FOR IRAN) Stefanik et al letter to SecDef Austin: On 6/13/23, Reps. Stefanik (R-NY) and Lamborn (R-CO) led a letter, cosigned by 7 Republican colleagues (all members of the House Armed Services Committee), to SecDef Lloyd Austin. The letter expressing concern with “Iran’s deepening partnership with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), characterized by recent illicit technology transfers between the authoritarian regimes.” The letter calls on the Department of Defense to provide: A specific breakdown of all technical assistance from the PRC to Iran; DOD’s assessment of Iran’s ICBM program; and analysis of US current homeland missile defense architecture in light of enhancing Iranian capabilities. Also see: press release.

(SENATE INVESTIGATION INTO PGA/LIV DEAL) Warren/Wyden letter to DOJ: On 6/13/23, Sens. Warren (D-MA) and Wyden (D-OR) sent a letter to the Department of Justice expressing their “serious concerns regarding the deal announced on June 6, 2023 between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) to consolidate global golf-related business, including LIV Golf (LIV). ” They argue that the deal, “which ‘enable[s] the Saudi government’s efforts to ‘sportswash’ its egregious human rights record,’ raises an array of potential legal and regulatory issues, including relating to the PGA Tour’s non-profit tax status and antitrust law.” The letter urges the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to “closely scrutinize this deal and oppose it if it would reduce competition in violation of the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 (Clayton Act) or the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 (Sherman Act).” The letter closes: “We urge the DOJ and the Antitrust Division to allocate sufficient resources to closely scrutinize the proposed deal including a careful review of the overt monopolistic goals of the parties and the potential consequences of the PGA Tour and LIV’s complete control over professional golf in the United States.” Also see: press release

(SENATE INVESTIGATION INTO PGA/LIV DEAL) Blumenthal letters to PGA & LIV chiefs: On 6/12/23, Sen. Blumenthal (D-CT) – chair of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations – sent letters to LIV Golf CEO Gregory Norman and to PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan (cc’d to his co-chair Seninforming them that the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations “is reviewing mattersrelated to the planned agreement between the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF), which owns LIV Golf, and PGA TOUR, Inc. (PGA Tour).” The letter notes, “While few details about the agreement are known, PIF’s role as an arm of the Saudi government and PGA Tour’s sudden and drastic reversal of position concerning LIV Golf raise seriousquestions regarding the reasons for and terms behind the announced agreement,” and requests “documents and information related to this agreement“. Also see: press release – Blumenthal Opens Probe Into PGA Tour & LIV Golf Agreement; PGA Tour to senators: You didn’t help us ‘fend off’ the Saudis (Politico 6/12/23)

(CONCERNS ABOUT ISRAEL & THE VISA WAIVER PROGRAM) Jackson et al letter to Blinken & Mayorkas: This week Rep. Jackson (D-IL) is seeking cosigners on a letter to SecState Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Mayorkas, expressing “concern regarding Israel’s bid to join the Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Visa Waiver Program (VWP).” The letter notes that before Israel is permitted to join the VWP, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State must ensure: “Full reciprocity for American citizens traveling to and from Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT),” “Full access to Israel and the OPT for all Americans” and “Guaranteed freedom of expression for Americans advocating for Palestinian human rights.” The letter concludes: “Based on the concerns we have highlighted here, it is clear Israel’s border policies upon entry and exist fail to meet the standards of reciprocity as required by the VWP. The State Department and DHS must provide monitoring of the treatment of Americans at the border and the bases of denial of entry to ensure no discriminatory policy or practice remains before Israel can be accepted into the Visa Waiver Program.”

Also see:

(INVESTIGATE “MAPPING PROJECT”; ALLEGE LINK TO IRAN) Bergman letter to DOJ: On 6/11/23, Fox News reported – “Rep. Jack Bergman [R-MI] has raised national security alarm bells by calling on the Justice Department to investigate ongoing efforts of an anti-American website that is allegedly promoted by Iran’s regime and incites assassination attacks against U.S. law enforcement personnel and American Jews. Bergman, R-Mich., sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland earlier this month. The letter, exclusively obtained by Fox News Digital, called for immediate action. He wrote, ‘To protect Americans’ national security interests and religious freedoms, the Justice Department should commission a full investigation into the origins and funding of the Mapping Project, including possible collaboration with the Islamic Republic.'”


2. Hearings & Events

June 22, 2023: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations will hold a farce of a hearing entitled, “Responding to Anti-Semitism [sic] and Anti-Israel Bias in the UN, Palestinian Authority, and NGO Community.” The witness lists makes 100% clear that this hearing has nothing to do with antisemitism and “bias” against Israel, and everything to do with attacking Palestinian rights activists/activism; delegitimizing efforts to hold Israel accountable to the same rules/laws as all other states; and undermining and suppressing criticism/critics of the state of Israel and its policies. That witness list consists of a who’s who of individuals engaged in efforts to do all of this, and representing groups whose missions focus on doing these things: Yona Schiffmiller (NGO Monitor); Itamar Marcus (Palestinian Media Watch);  Eugene Kontorovich (Kohelet Policy Forum); and Hillel Neuer (UN Watch). Of special note here is Kontorovich, representing the Israeli far right-wing organization that is the key driver of the ongoing “reform” agenda in Israel (the one that Israelis are protesting in the streets).

June 21, 2023: The House Armed Services Committee will hold 7 subcommittee markups of sections of the FY24 NDAA, followed by a full committee mark-up of the bill on 6/21/23.

June 21, 2023: The Senate Foreign Relations committee will hold a business meeting to consider various measures, including: S. XXXX, the “Safeguarding Tunisian Democracy Act” (not introduced yet, as of this writing); and  S. Con. Res. 2, a concurrent resolution “commending the bravery, courage, and resolve of the women and men of Iran demonstrating in more than 133 cities and risking their safety to speak out against the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses.”

June 21, 2023: The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a markup of various measures including HR 3033 (which has a Senate companion S. 1390), the “Solidify Iran Sanctions Act. This bill seeks to complicate any future negotiated agreement with Iran over its nuclear program by making key Iran sanctions permanent. It was introduced 4/28/23 by Steel (R-CA) and 24 cosponsors (of which 8 are Democrats), and since then has gained another 3 cosponsors (all Republican).

June 20-22, 2023: Various subcommittees of the Senate Armed Services Committee will be marking up the FY24 NDAA (closed markups)

June 13, 2023: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia held a hearing entitled, “Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request for Near Eastern Affairs.”  Witnesses were: Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf (statement) and Deputy Assistant USAID Administrator for the Middle East Jeanne Pryor (statement). Watch the full hearing here [for a reminder of how this same hearing went in the Senate, and how these two witnesses performed, see the 6/2/23 edition of the Round-Up]. Also see: U.S. is working to ‘get Iran to deescalate on a variety of fronts,’ Leaf says (Jewish Insider 6/14/23); Bahrain, Iran likely to restore diplomatic ties soon, US diplomat says (Reuters 6/13/23); ‘We’ll Help Finance an Iranian Nuclear Weapon’: Biden Administration Faces Congressional Grilling on Iran, Saudi Arabia (The Algemeiner 6/13/23)

Q&A details:

  • Wilson (R-SC) doubled/tripled down on the Taylor Force Act (reassured by Leaf) and Iranian missile exports;
  • Connolly (D-VA) expressed anger and frustration over the recent Blinken visit to Saudi Arabia – expressing outrage over the non-mention of Jamal Khashoggi, over Saudi’s oil policy (and frustration with the Biden Admin’s approach on this), and over China’s role in improved Iran-Saudi relations;
  • Baird (R-IN) asked about Iran-Saudi detente and Iranian terrorism, relations with UAE, and China’s role in Iran-Saudi relations;
  • Phillips (D-MN) asked softball questions about how the US ensures MENA remains prioritized in light of other pressing priorities around the world and about impact of proposed cuts to U.S. foreign assistance funds; McCormick (R-GA) asked about how to ensure that green energy policies benefit US production, not China; and asked about the expiration of UNSCR 2231 – the UN ban on Iran’s missile and drone program – and what the US is willing to do to stop it; and he then wound up with an attack aid to the Palestinians: “…since we’ve come back on board to assisting the Palestinians financially we’ve seen a steep increase in violence. I always say we don’t reward bad behavior uh are we are we willing to turn off that spigot of funding if they’re going to be bad actors.” Leaf replied by throwing the Palestinians under the bus and absolving Israel of any/all responsibility for violence: “We provide funding not to the Palestinian Authority but to a variety of implementing partners…we do  provide assistance security assistance to  the Palestinian Security Forces which frankly is in the interests of both the Israeli and the Palestinian public. You’re right there has been a sharp and really shocking degree of violence…over the last two years. I think there are a whole variety of  factors that are at play — part of it is frankly the inability of the Palestinian Security Forces to to get after the problem but it’s also driven by socioeconomic issues, lack of political horizon – a whole host of things – very tough mix.”  McCormick replied: “With that I just want to point out that I think if you’re motivated and people are motivated by this sort of thing that they’ll find the right thing to do. And I think we have to hold to our guns and reward good behavior not bad.”
  • Sherman (D-CA) made a statement against cuts to funding for State/USAID, and asked about US funding to the IMF while Iran is being given special drawing rights at the IMF. He expressed concern about the normalization of Assad. He expressed serious concerns about US policy vis-a-vis Saudi’s efforts to develop a nuclear program and the eagerness to have Saudi Arabia join the Abraham Accords, noting: “one would hope that they would try to get a better life for Palestinians in their negotiations but they have not prioritized that. What they want is anuclear cooperation agreement with the United States that is not similar to the one that we entered in with the UAE that was a gold standard agreement with no re-enrichment, no reprocessing, and the additional protocol. Is there a risk that in this exuberant desire to have the big meeting where everybody’s shaking hands and we’re all Abrahamic that…can I count on the administration not to bring a nuclear cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia to this house that does not meet the same gold standard standards?” Leaf responded that the Palestinian aspect was not completely missing (Sherman dismissed this as covering Saudi’s real intent), and declined to give Sherman the requested commitment regarding gold standards, instead promising:  “we will rigorously promote nuclear security and non-proliferation and we will consult with the Congress.” Sherman wound up with a final question accusing UNRWA of glorifying terrorism and promoting antisemitism, and asking what the US is doing to stop this. Leaf responded by throwing UNRWA under the bus, stating, “Congressman it is still an issue a work in progress we have the same concerns that you have about curricula or teaching in the classroom that in any way glorifies violence, terrorism and so forth. So it is very much a work in progress and we’re committed to it.”
  • Manning (D-NC) asked (1) about the Biden Admin’s longterm strategy for dealing with Iran; (2) about Saudi Arabia and the Abraham Accords. Manning asked: “Recently the Saudis have indicated that normalization would require Israel to make progress with the Palestinians —  or I might say perhaps the Palestinians need to have a will to make progress. So can you share more about some of the specific steps that the United States the Saudis and Israel and the Palestinians must take to get to an eventual normalization deal?” Leaf: “So there’s no defined roadmap at this point I’ll be quite honest and a lot of  the discussions are are nascent and they’re not really the kind of things that I would want to trot out into the public venue. It’ll be something that the administration will definitely consult with Congress along the way as as things get refined but for instance on the issue of the Palestinians I I understand that the Saudis have spoken to the Palestinians but they don’t they don’t have as yet, as far as I know, a defined picture of what what they might put into the mix in terms of a requirement or something that they would seek as part of this package. So there is absolutely the will and the determination on the part of the prioritization on the part of the administration to midwife this normalization which as you say will be transformative it will bring others along and it will shift things very dynamically in the region and in  a direction that will only be to the good. So it is very much a priority for us but I would just say stay tuned.” Manning: “When you say there’s no  road map are there steps active steps being taken to try to work toward creating a road map?” Leaf: “There are discussions.”  Manning: “What options do you see for moving the Palestinians and in particular Palestinian leadership toward taking steps necessary to work toward a two-state solution? We know there’s rising gang crime in the West Bank  – it’s not being addressed by Palestinian Authority. We know there have been random shootings particularly one I need to mention the name of Elan Ganelis who was an American citizen who was shot dead. There really hasn’t been much said about him he’s referred to the press as as a as a Israeli soldier but in fact he’s an American citizen. He was living in the U.S. He was in Israel for a wedding. Shot dead , not a lot said about that by the Americans. What steps can we take to to encourage the Palestinians to actively control the the terrorism that’s going on by Palestinians and the criminal gangs? Leaf (once again throwing Palestinians under the bus: “So we have the sort of the programmatic side which is very much part and parcel of our approach to creating a professional and capable set of security forces in the West Bank that would be able to carry out all of their responsibilities in area A. And that is just not the case yet. We have the U.S. security coordinator General Mike Finzel who has a whole set of activities that he oversees and then we have the diplomatic effort which, as you’ll have seen over the last months, we had a meeting — Egypt Jordan the U.S., Israel and the Palestinians – in Aqaba, Jordan and then Sharma Sheikh, Egypt. And those have been a combination of security and political discussions to get after exactly the issues which is this really eroding sense of security in the West Bank – it’s eroding for Palestinians, it’s eroding for Israelis, let alone for visitors. And so this is a priority for us it is a very difficult environment right now. I would say there is a just an erosion of stability and security and that was uh you know that was the um the target of a lot of our efforts throughout the period of the Confluence of the Three Holy religions major religions during March April so we brought down the level of violence but by no means have we been able to get the PA Security Forces where they need to be.
  • Round 2: Wilson weighed in (start of 2nd round) noting: “…as we proceed with the second round you can see there’s really bipartisan concern with the complicity by the Palestinian Authority working with terrorists across the region...” He then expressed concern about normalization with Assad and about negotiations to renew the Iran nuclear deal. Phillips asked about Syria humanitarian border crossing, the re-establishment of a US coordinator for displaced populations in Syria, and expressed concerns about ongoing developments in Tunisia (asking what are the mechanics of a US policy to reduce aid to the Tunisian government without hurting the Tunisian people). Baird asked about Syria/Assad diversion of international aid.
  • Manning closed out the hearing asking about the new MENA opportunity fund and examples of the types of project that might come out of the Negev Forum. She then asked: “what additional measures should the administration take to support tolerance in the region? For example, should we be providing more support to the office of special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism to help with with normalization and also help fight hate in the Arab world? Are there other steps we should be taking?” Leaf: “So I’m glad you brought up Deborah Lipstadt because she’s doing terrific work, and so is Tom Nides, our ambassador in Embassy Jerusalem. They are working to foster…she’s of course working in her space with Morocco, Bahrain, and UAE and finds quite an appetite there for her work and for some collaborative projects that they are generating. Tom Nides and his staff are helping to foster some really interesting sports and cultural ties between Israel and those countries. I think frankly  I want to see more of that in the space of Egypt and Jordan, the original founders of peace and that’s where we really need to to warm up the public relations.” Manning: “Is there anything holding those countries back?” Leaf: “Just the legacy of years, I think.


3. Media & Reports

Jewish Insider 6/16/23: Gottheimer: Biden admin ‘needs to act faster’ to address antisemitism on campus [re Biden antisemitism strategy: “It’s a first, it’s historic, it’s a whole-of-government approach, you know, to fight antisemitism. My concerns are the ones that have been expressed elsewhere, which I think are the right concerns. On the definition [the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism], why is it not fully codified? Why would they list other definitions, which I believe are certainly questionable and shaky.” & re CUNY:“I believe, which is why I’m working on legislation and have spoken out, that if you have a campus that’s enabling this antisemitic hate speech, you should lose federal funding. That should just be the cost. Why are we federally funding places that are allowing this hate-driven antisemitism? By the way, hate against any community, why are we letting that continue? We should not allow it, and the federal government should not fund it.”]

Jewish News Syndicate 6/15/23: 2024 candidates mostly silent on bill to hold schools fiscally accountable for antisemitism

Jewish Insider 6/15/23: Cardin: ‘One of my missions’ is to help young lawmakers understand the U.S.-Israel relationship

The Hill 6/15/23 (op-ed by Eric Mandel/MEPIN): Congress must act before Biden strikes a new Iran deal behind its back 

Jewish Insider 6/15/23: Renewed Iran talks met with bipartisan skepticism on Capitol Hill

Times of Israel 6/13/23: Herzog said set to meet Biden, address Congress in July, as Netanyahu still shut out

Haaretz 6/13/23: FARA Disclosures Reveal How Blacklisted NSO Is Lobbying Biden Admin and Congress [“Israeli spyware maker NSO paying major lobbying firms to persuade officials it’s now ‘vetting’ clients and prioritizing ‘human rights’ – while attacking ‘one-sided’ critics as being anti-Israel. It also explains why it won’t notify innocent victims”]

Haaretz 6/11/23: When Pro-insurrection Congressmen Met Israel’s Judicial Coup Architect

NPO 6/12/23: The U.S. says it wants to rejoin UNESCO after exiting during the Trump administration [“Congress agreed last year that the U.S. could make financial contributions to UNESCO, and the group said in December that the country could return as a member, though the proposed plan must be approved by member states.”]


4. Members on the Record (Palestine/Palestinians)

Green (R-TN) 6/15/23: Tweet – “Seems like CUNY Law has a major anti-Israel problem. At least they don’t have any professors that currently work for the Biden administration as the Senior Policy Advisor for Immigration at the White House Domestic Policy Council, right?” Linked to Fox News article, CUNY Law grad faces calls to be barred from ever practicing law over ‘evil,’ ‘Anti-American’ ‘hate speech’


5.  Members on the Record (Israel)

More tweets/statements on meetings with AIPAC: Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Letlow (R-LA), Wicker (R-MS), Capito (R-WV), Gottheimer (D-NY), Gottheimer (D-NY)

Granger (R-TX) 6/15/23: Tweet – “Always great to spend time with @AmbHerzog and celebrate the 75th Anniversary of #Israel’s Independence Day! #IStandWithIsrael!

Santos (R-NY) 6/14/23: remarks on House floor condemning antisemitism, closing “ It is critical that this body continues to support and stand with the Jewish community and Israel. I hope my colleagues join me in the fight against anti-Semitism and send a clear message that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in the United States of America.

Rosen (D-NV) 6/12/23: press release – Rosen Helps Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Counter New Threats from Iran by Strengthening U.S.-Israel Defense Collaboration in Emerging Technologies

Fulcher (R-ID) 6/12/23: Tweet – “We must combat the bias with the United Nations Human Rights Council, which targets Israel while ignoring abuses from Iran, North Korea, and others. I’m proud to stand with our great ally and cosponsor the bipartisan COI Elimination Act…

McGovern (D-MA) 6/11/23: Tweet – “Thank you to @jstreetdotorg, the @NewIsraelFund, Amb. Alan Solomont, and Boston’s Temple Israel for hosting an important discussion with my friend @RepLoriTrahan on the need for a two-state solution, moderated by Nadav Tamir.”

Lamborn (R-CO) 6/9/23: press release – Congressman Lamborn’s Prepared Remarks for the 2023 Western Conservative Summit [“As he has cowered before our adversaries, Joe Biden has simultaneously undermined our relations with America’s closest allies. When he first came into office, he swore to re-evaluate America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. This resulted in high oil prices that drove gas prices to an unprecedented high. In addition, an increasing number of U.S. partner nations are choosing to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of China.  These diplomatic missteps have been most apparent in the U.S. relationship with Israel, one of our closest allies who the Biden Administration seems to view as non-essential. However, I believe that the relationship between the United States and Israel has only grown deeper and more significant over the years. I anticipate it will continue to flourish long into the future. I have been honored to visit Israel eight times and look forward to doing so once again in just a few weeks. The holy sites in Israel are cherished by people of many faiths across the world, and support of the state that has sovereignty over them is fundamental. In stark contrast, Vice President Harris this week expressed her belief that the U.S. should encroach upon Israel’s sovereignty. Apparently, the Biden administration believes it has a right to interfere in the internal politics of one of our closest allies. In addition, President Biden has still not met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, a deliberate snub. I believe we should support our allies instead of undermining them.  I have a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, that if successful, will invest $50 million dollars per year in cutting-edge joint defense technologies for U.S. and Israel.”


6. Members on the Record (Iran)

Cotton (R-AR) 6/15/23: Cotton: Biden’s Billions to Iran “Abject Appeasement”

Hagerty (R-TN) 6/15/23: Tweet – “The Iranian terrorist regime continues taking advantage of Biden’s embarrassing weakness. Giving Iran billions of dollars does not deter them from enriching uranium—it emboldens them to fund attacks on American personnel and allies.

Wilson (R-SC) 6/12/23: statement in the Congressional Record – Reimpose Sanctions on Iran

Yakym (R-IN) 6/12/23: Tweet – “Iran’s malign activities and nuclear program threatens Israel and the stability of the entire Middle East. Proud to join @RepTenney & @RepJoshG bipartisan letter calling for our European allies to reimpose snapback sanctions on the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.

Burgess (R-UT) 6/9/23: Tweet –“Iran continues to sponsor terrorism around the globe, posing a grave threat to our national security. This week, I co-signed a bipartisan letter encouraging our European partners to initiate snapback sanctions on Iran under UNSCR 2231.”


7. Members on the Record (Other Mideast countries)

Saudi Arabia

McClain (R-MI) 6/13/23: Facebook post – “Earlier this afternoon, I had a great meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States, Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud. It was great to discuss the ongoing issues related to Chinese manufacturing and how Saudi Arabia has taken precautions when dealing with China in business matters. We also talked about the current affairs in the Middle East and the role Saudi Arabia plays in the stabilization of the region.”

Middle East – general

Ernst (R-IA) 6/13/23: press release – ICYMI: Ernst at The Senate Project Foreign Policy Debate [excerpts: On the reality of the increasing threat of Iran: ‘Iran is an adversary, and I do not see in the near future where our two countries will come together. Iran has stated for a decade plus that their intent is to destroy Israel and destroy the United States of America.’ ‘What Iran is doing right now is digging underground bunker structures in order to complete that process. And pretty soon that will be completed. And we would have very little opportunity to disrupt by force their development of a nuclear bomb.’ ‘They are killing women in the streets, protesters disappear, never to be seen again. This is not a type of governmental institution that we can deal with just by conversing. This administration has been very lacking when it comes to leadership pushing back against Iran.’ ‘We have an administration that refuses to step up and enforce their own sanctions.’ On growing the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia: ‘We need to continue working with Saudi Arabia for the stability of that region. They are a very powerful player.’ ‘The Abraham Accords that came out of the last administration were incredibly important to bring a number of Arab nations together with Israel and normalize those relations.’ ‘We want to see Saudi Arabia normalize their relations with Israel.’“]