As reported in last week’s Round-Up, on 5/10 the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations marked up the draft FY2020 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs bill. Video is here. Bill text is here; press release is here.
Today (5/16), the full Appropriations Committee will hold its mark-up of the bill. In the run-up to this markup, on 5/15 the committee released the Report accompanying the draft FY2020 SFOPS text, which lays out extensive explanatory language, conditions, and other directives, was released.
Below are Middle East-related details in both the draft bill and report that accompanied it (report language is indented).
Note: This year’s SFOPS text has been reorganized somewhat, with some sections Middle East-related sections moved and/or consolidated. Yet, notwithstanding the Trump Administration’s abandonment of the Oslo process and the two-state solution, and notwithstanding the total cut-off in U.S. funding for the Palestinians (based on Congressional actions like the Taylor Force Act and the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, and on Trump Administration punitive policies) this year’s SFOPS still contains more language conditioning, limiting, restricting, vetting, overseeing, and otherwise obstructing aid to the Palestinians than any other aid recipient in the Middle East or, indeed, the world.
This unusual degree of focus on the Palestinians in SFOPS has long been striking, but in the past Members could at least hide behind the (very thin) pretense that it was all about exercising due diligence over taxpayer funds. In the current context, even that pretense has been shattered. The sole purpose served by the bill’s focus on the Palestinians today is, self-evidently, the cheapest kind of political grandstanding.
Intro language from the Report notes:
“…The Committee remains committed to the security of our allies. Such commitment to security is demonstrated by the unwavering support for Israel, reflected by full funding for the United States- Israel Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The Committee recommendation also includes continued support for other critical allies, such as Jordan, and makes additional assistance available to help Jordan address needs that have arisen because of unrest in neighboring countries…The Committee recommendation also restores humanitarian and development assistance to the Palestinians as part of a broader policy objective to keep the goal of a two-state solution viable by providing resources through international organizations to address human needs in the West Bank and Gaza.”
TITLE I — DEPARTMENT OF STATE AND RELATED AGENCY
Broadcasting Board of Governors, international broadcasting operations: Perennial bill language providing $798,196,000 “to carry out international communication activities, and to make and supervise grants for radio, Internet, and television broadcasting to the Middle East.”
The table included in the Report earmarks $11,312,000 of these funds for “Middle East Broadcasting Networks.” The Report also notes that “The Committee recommendation for VOA and RFE/RL supports the USAGM’s programs targeted to Persian audiences, including the new VOA 365 Persian Service launched in early 2019 and the ongoing Radio Farda of RFE/RL.”
Center for Middle Eastern-Western Dialogue Trust Fund: Perennial bill provision stating: “For necessary expenses of the Center for Middle Eastern-Western Dialogue Trust Fund, as authorized by section 633 of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2004 (22 U.S.C. 2078), the total amount of the interest and earnings accruing to such Fund on or before September 30, 2019, to remain available until expended.”
Israeli Arab Scholarship Program: Perennial bill provision stating: “For necessary expenses of the Israeli Arab Scholarship Program, as authorized by section 214 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993 (22 U.S.C. 2452 note), all interest and earnings accruing to the Israeli Arab Scholarship Fund on or before September 30, 2020, to remain available until expended.
The Report notes:
Combating Anti-Semitism.—The Committee recommendation includes not less than $500,000 for the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism as authorized by the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004 (P.L. 108–332). The Committee recognizes the important work of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism given the rise of anti-Semitism and the increase in anti-Semitic incidents around the world. The Committee directs the Secretary of State to ensure the Office of the Special Envoy has sufficient resources and staff.”
Release of United States citizens detained in Iran.—The Committee remains concerned about United States citizens and legal permanent residents missing and detained in Iran. The Committee urges the Secretary of State to prioritize these cases, to continue to press the Government of Iran for the immediate release of those detained, and to provide any information it possesses regarding any United States citizens that have disappeared within its borders. The Committee directs the Department of State to report, within 45 days after enactment of this Act, to the Committees on Appropriations on the channels being utilized to negotiate these hostage cases.
TITLE III — BILATERAL ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE
The Report includes a table laying out Development Assistance (DA), including for the Middle East, allocated as follows:
Lebanon – $56.3 million, of which $12 million is for scholarships
Morocco – $10 million
Refugee Scholarships – $8 million
The Report goes on to state:
Lebanon scholarships.—The Committee recommendation includes funds for scholarships for Lebanese students with high financial need to attend not-for-profit educational institutions in Lebanon that meet standards comparable to those required for American accreditation. Students in Lebanon should be eligible for scholarships if they demonstrate financial need, have strong academic records, and show potential to contribute to the long-term political, economic, and social development of Lebanon. The Committee directs that these funds be awarded through an open and competitive process.
Scholarship program for refugees.—The Committee recommendation includes funds to continue the university scholarship pilot pro-gram for refugees in Lebanon. Such funds are in addition to funds made available for assistance for Lebanon under this heading. The USAID Administrator is directed to consult with the Committees on Appropriations on an ongoing basis on how the program will be administered consistent with the Lebanon scholarship program at not-for-profit educational institutions in Lebanon that meet the standards required for American accreditation, and other matters related to implementation.
The Report also notes, under the title “Assistance for Europe, Eurasia and Central America”:
Support for eastern Mediterranean partners.—The Committee appreciates the Secretary of State’s presence at the sixth trilateral summit between Cyprus, Greece, and Israel, and supports the joint declaration made to increase regional cooperation, support energy independence, and to defend against external malign influences in the region. The Committee directs the Secretary of State to report to the Committees on Appropriations not later than 45 days after the enactment of this Act on available Department of State programs and mechanisms to support further cooperation between the United States and partners in the eastern Mediterranean, and encourages the Secretary of State to provide resources to support annual joint dialogues with officials, including career government personnel, of the Departments of State, Defense and Energy and their counterparts in the Governments of Greece, Cyprus, and Israel.
MIGRATION AND REFUGEE ASSISTANCE – MRA (Total: $ 3,532,000,000]
The bill stipulates that, “$5,000,000 shall be made available for refugees resettling in Israel.”
The Report states:
Refugees in the Middle East.—The Committee encourages the Secretary of State and the USAID Administrator, as appropriate, to ensure that the diplomatic and assistance needs of countries in the region offering safe haven to Syrian refugees are being ad-dressed, including through assistance to host communities.
Resettlement in Israel.—The Committee recommendation includes not less than $5,000,000 for refugees from the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and other refugees resettling in Israel, which is the same as the request and similar to language carried in prior years.
Refugees in North Africa.—The Committee directs, not later than 45 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, after consultation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, to submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations describing steps taken to strengthen monitoring of the delivery of humanitarian assistance provided for refugees in North Africa, including any steps taken to ensure that all vulnerable refugees are receiving such assistance.
TITLE IV – INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE
The Report accompanying the bill includes a table laying out ESF allocations, including for the Middle East & North Africa, as follows:
Lebanon – $56.2 ,million
Middle East Partnership Initiative scholarship program – $20 million
Middle East Regional Cooperation – $5 million
Morocco – $10 million
Near East Regional Democracy – $2 million
The Report notes:
Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).—The Committee supports continued funding for the MEPI scholarship program. Scholarships should be made available for institutions that meet standards comparable to those required for American accreditation and should be awarded in a manner consistent with prior fiscal years, including on an open and competitive basis.
USAID-Israel international development cooperation.—The Committee is supportive of cooperative projects and notes relevant legislation is under consideration by the authorizing committee of jurisdiction. If authorized, the Committee encourages USAID to partner with Israel on projects that identify and support local solutions to address sustainability challenges relating to water resources, agriculture, and energy storage.”
NONPROLIFERATION, ANTI-TERRORISM, DEMINING AND RELATED PROGRAMS – NADR
This section of the bill includes a perennial stipulation that “…funds appropriated under this heading may be made available for the IAEA unless the Secretary of State determines that Israel is being denied its right to participate in the activities of that Agency.”
PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS – PKO
The bill stipulates that, “…not less than $31,000,000 shall be made available for a United States contribution to the Multinational Force and Observers mission in the Sinai.”
The Report accompanying the bill states:
“The Committee directs that funds made available above the level of the United States contribution are intended to address ongoing force protection requirements and emerging needs to protect and sustain the MFO mission in the Sinai.”
FOREIGN MILITARY FINANCING – FMF (TOTAL: $ 6,109,121,000]
[See the bill text in Section 7041, below, for details of FMF provisions for all Near East countries except Israel.]
The Report accompanying the bill includes a table laying out FMF allocations, including for the Middle East & North Africa, as follows:
Israel- $3.3 billion
Egypt – $1.3 billion
Jordan: $425 million
The bill text earmarks, “not less than $3,300,000,000 shall be available for grants only for Israel which shall be disbursed within 30 days of enactment of this Act.” The text includes perennial stipulation that “…to the extent that the Government of Israel requests that funds be used for such purposes, grants made available for Israel under this heading shall, as agreed by the United States and Israel, be available for advanced weapons systems, of which not less than $805,300,000 shall be available for the procurement in Israel of defense articles and defense services, including research and development.”
NOTE: As highlighted previously in the Round-Up, these little-remarked stipulations – early disbursal and permission for almost $1 billion of FMF to be spent inside Israel – are unique to Israel’s aid program. Both significantly increase the value of the assistance to Israel and the cost of the assistance to the U.S. In all other cases, FMF is obligated and disbursed by the U.S. on an as-used basis, meaning that the U.S. either keeps the money in the U.S. Treasury until it is needed (where it earns interest) or if the money is not in the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. does not have to borrow it until it is needed (meaning less interest paid). In the case of Israel, the entire amount is handed over in a lump sum within 30 days of the law passing, meaning that Israel can bank the money and earn interest on it (which it can spend however and wherever it likes). In addition, in all other cases, FMF must be spent inside the U.S. (unless a specific exemption is granted). The logic behind this is that FMF is not just a “gift” to a foreign country but is actually a form of investment in the U.S. economy. In Israel’s case, however, almost $1 billion of FMF may be used in Israel, rather than for the benefit of U.S. industry (this amount is gradually being phased out in the coming years, but between now and the time it is phased out completely it still represents billions of dollars).
In addition, the Report accompanying the bill states:
The Committee recommendation includes $3,300,000,000 in grants for military assistance to Israel, which is the same as the budget request. The Committee notes that the recommendation fully funds the second year of the ten-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States and Israel. The Committee further notes the continued importance of Israel as a major strategic partner and ally of the United States in an unstable and critical region of the world. The Committee recognizes that the United States-Israel partnership is integral to United States national security interests in the region and supports the continuation of the MOU framework negotiated by the Obama Administration to strengthen the strategic partnership to the benefit of both the United States and Israel. The Committee emphasizes the commitment of the United States to the security of Israel and to ensuring that Israel’s qualitative military edge and defense capabilities are maintained.
The Committee notes that Israel maintains the flexibility under the MOU to purchase jet fuel from the United States.
Section 7035(b) includes language carried in the prior year designating an amount for the Special Defense Acquisition Fund. The Committee supports the use of this fund to transfer precision guided munitions and related defense articles and services to reserve stocks for Israel and the transfer of such stocks as necessary for Israel’s legitimate self-defense
TITLE V – MULTILATERAL ASSISTANCE
The Report includes a table laying out funding allocations for International Organizations and Programs (IO&P), including for the Middle East, as follows:
UN/FAO, West Bank & Gaza – $1 million
UN Children’s Fund – $147.5 million, of which $10 million is for West Bank and Gaza
UNDP – $95 million, of which $15 million is for West Bank and Gaza
UN Human Settlements Program – $1.7 million, of which $1 million is for West Bank and Gaza
UN Population Fund – $55.5 million, of which $1 million is for West Bank and Gaza
United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) – $170.55 million
World Food Program/West Bank and Gaza – $20 million
World Health Organization/West Bank and Gaza – $8 million
The Report notes:
The Committee notes with great concern rising humanitarian needs and a lack of adequate resources in the West Bank and Gaza. The Committee recommends a total of $226,550,000 in multilateral assistance to support humanitarian and development efforts. Such assistance shall only be provided to international organizations that are currently operating in the West Bank and Gaza and that adhere to the humanitarian principles of independence, impartiality, humanity, and neutrality.
The Committee expects that the UN organizations funded under the IO&P account for operations in the West Bank and Gaza will report to the Committees on Appropriations not later than 45 days after enactment of this Act on how such assistance is used to: (1) address urgent humanitarian needs; (2) promote a private sector economy; (3) continue support for transparent and accountable government institutions; (4) improve security in the region; and (5) advance Middle East peace
United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).—In addition to the humanitarian principles noted above, the Committee urges UNRWA to take additional steps to adhere to the policies described in section 7048 (d) of this Act, including redoubling efforts to (1) implement procedures to maintain the neutrality of its facilities, including implementing a no-weapons policy and conducting regular inspections of its installations, to ensure they are only used for humanitarian or other appropriate purposes; and (2) take steps to ensure that the content of all educational materials taught in UNRWA-administered schools and summer camps is: (A) consistent with the value of dignity for all persons; and (B) does not induce or encourage incitement, violence, or prejudice.
[NOTE: The funding for the West Bank and Gaza in this category appears to be a rather elegant means of trying to work around ATCA. That is, since the Palestinians have not traditionally been funded via the IO&P account, the IO&P account is not one of the accounts named under ATCA (meaning that the Palestinians accepting funding coming appropriated under IO&P would not trigger legal liability under ATCA).]
TITLE VII – GENERAL PROVISIONS
Sec. 7007: Prohibition against direct funding for certain countries
This is perennial bill language banning aid to Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Syria, extending to loans, credits, insurance, and guarantees of the Export-Import Bank or its agents.
Sec. 7008: Coups d’état
This perennial bill provision (which caused Congress and the Obama Administration a headache over Egypt funding) states: “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to titles III through VI of this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d’état or decree or, after the date of enactment of this Act, a coup d’état or decree in which the military plays a decisive role.” It also states that “assistance may be resumed to such government if the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the appropriate congressional committees that subsequent to the termination of assistance a democratically elected government has taken office” and that the prohibition in this section “shall not apply to assistance to promote democratic elections or public participation in democratic processes.”
Sec. 7013: Prohibition on taxation of assistance
This is a perennial bill provision barring taxation of U.S. assistance. While this provision appears generic, the only recipient explicitly identified is the West Bank and Gaza [ironic, since the Trump Administration has cut off all funding to it]. This reflects the genesis of the provision: long-past allegations that the Palestinian Authority (PA) was taxing U.S. assistance provided to NGOs (and recall that under existing law direct aid to the PA is prohibited), thereby indirectly benefiting from US assistance designed specifically to bypass the PA.
Sec. 7015: Notification Requirements
Part (g) of this bill provision states that no funds appropriated under titles III through VI of this Act (pretty much all funds in the bill) may be obligated or expended for assistance to a laundry list of countries, “except as provided through regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.” From the Middle East, the list includes (this year): Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
Sec. 7021: Prohibition on assistance to governments supporting international terrorism
Perennial bill provision prohibiting funding to any country “which provides lethal military equipment to a country the government of which the Secretary of State has determined supports international terrorism…” and prohibits bilateral assistance to any country that supports international terrorism, gives sanctuary to terrorist, or is controlled by a terrorist organization. The section includes national security waivers for both restrictions.
Sec. 7032: Democracy Programs
Part (a) of this section of the bill earmarks not less than $2,400,000,000 for democracy programs, (as defined later in this provision). Part (e) states that funding and programs under this section “shall not be subject to the prior approval by the government of any foreign country.”
Sec. 7033: International Religious Freedom
Part (a) of this section of the bill provides funding for the “Office of International Religious Freedom, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Department of State, and the Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia, as authorized in the Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act of 2014 (Public Law 113–161)…”
Sec. 7034: Special Provisions
Part (k)(1) of this section of the bill allows funding to be made available “for the costs, as defined in section 502 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, of loan guarantees for Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, and Ukraine, which are authorized to be provided…” It also states that “amounts made available under this paragraph for the costs of such guarantees shall not be considered assistance for the purposes of provisions of law limiting assistance to a country.”
Sec. 7035: Law Enforcement and Security
Part (b)(5) of this section of the bill is a perennial provision providing for financing of commercial leasing of defense articles to Israel, Egypt, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and major non-NATO allies.
Part (c)(2) lays out limitations related to landmines and cluster munitions.
Part (c)(3) states that “Funds appropriated by this Act should not be used for tear gas, small arms, light weapons, ammunition, or other items for crowd control purposes for foreign security 6forces that use excessive force to repress peaceful expression, association, or assembly in countries that 8the Secretary of State determines are undemocratic or are undergoing democratic transitions.”
Sec. 7038: Palestinian statehood
Perennial bill provision barring (with extensive language) assistance to a Palestinian state that does not meet a series of conditions (includes perennial Presidential waiver authority).
Sec. 7039: Limitation on Assistance for the Palestinian Authority
This section of the bill combines what in the past were a number of different perennial provisions dealing with U.S. aid for and relations with the Palestinians. As now consolidated here:
Part (a) bans U.S. assistance (ESF) to the Palestinian Authority
Part (b-e) provide the President authority to waive that ban and lay out related oversight requirements.
NOTE: As highlighted in the Report, this section “includes language modified from the prior year placing limitations on any assistance for the Palestinian Authority and the prohibitions on funds to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Hamas. The waiver now includes the additional reporting requirement that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has facilitated the settlement of terrorism-related claims on nationals of the United States…” This appears to be an effort to add ATCA related pressure on the PA.
Part (f) is a perennial subsection entitled “Prohibition to Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization” (lumping together a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization with the internationally recognized representative of the Palestinian people that is NOT on the list of U.S.-designated FTO since that list was first published in 1997). This subsection bars funding to the PLO and for salaries of PA personnel in Gaza or for Hamas or any entity “effectively controlled by Hamas, any power-sharing government of which Hamas is a member, or that results from an agreement with Hamas and over which Hamas exercises undue influence.”
NOTE: As has been noted in the past in the Round-Up, the formulation in this legislation is designed to make it difficult for the U.S. engage any kind of Palestinian power-sharing government that results from any Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, or some other arrangements that lead to a national unity government or a mutually-agreed technocratic government (indeed, the text of the subsection evolved in recent years in response to Palestinian efforts to achieve such governments). Notably, this year’s House text does include the slightly moderating clause, “and over which Hamas exercises undue influence” (language that has appeared and disappeared from SFOPS over the years).
The section also includes language of past bills stipulating that the prohibition does not apply if the President “certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that such government, including all of its ministers or such equivalent, has publicly accepted and is complying with the principles contained in section 620K(b)(1) (A) and (B) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended.”
It also includes the proviso that, “the President may exercise the authority in section 620K(e) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as added by the Palestine Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-446) with respect to this subsection.” The latter prohibition does not apply if the President “certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that such government, including all of its ministers or such equivalent, has publicly accepted and is complying with the principles contained in section 620K(b)(1) (A) and (B) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended.” Also, “the President may exercise the authority in section 620K(e) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as added by the Palestine Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-446) with respect to this subsection.”]
As a reminder: Section 620K(b)(1)(A) and (B) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, reads as follows:
(b) Certification.–A certification described in subsection (a) is a certification transmitted by the President to Congress that contains a determination of the President that–
(1) no ministry, agency, or instrumentality of the Palestinian Authority is effectively controlled by Hamas, unless the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority has–
(A) publicly acknowledged the Jewish state of Israel’s right to exist; and
(B) committed itself and is adhering to all previous agreements and understandings with the United States Government, with the Government of Israel, and with the international community, including agreements and understandings pursuant to the Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (commonly referred to as the `Roadmap’).
And 620K(e) reads as follows:
(e) National Security Waiver.–
(1) In general.–Subject to paragraph (2), the President may waive subsection (a) with respect to-
(A) the administrative and personal security costs of the Office of the President of the Palestinian Authority;
(B) the activities of the President of the Palestinian Authority to fulfill his or her duties as President, including to maintain control of the management and security of border crossings, to foster the Middle East peace process, and to promote democracy and the rule of law; and
(C) assistance for the judiciary branch of the Palestinian Authority and other entities.
(2) Certification.–The President may only exercise the waiver authority under paragraph (1) after–
(A) consulting with, and submitting a written policy justification to, the appropriate congressional committees; and
(B) certifying to the appropriate congressional committees that–
(i) it is in the national security interest of the United States to provide assistance otherwise prohibited under subsection (a); and
(ii) the individual or entity for which assistance is proposed to be provided is not a member of, or effectively controlled by (as the case may be), Hamas or any other foreign terrorist organization.
(3) Report.—Not later than 10 days after exercising the waiver authority under paragraph (1), the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report describing how the funds provided pursuant to such waiver will be spent and detailing the accounting procedures that are in place to ensure proper oversight and accountability.
(4) Treatment of certification as notification of program change.–For purposes of this subsection, the certification required under paragraph (2)(B) shall be deemed to be a notification under section 634A and shall be considered in accordance with the procedures applicable to notifications submitted pursuant to that section.
Part (g) is language transplanted from a different section in previous ForOps bills and given a new title, “Suspension of Assistance.” This section stipulates that US economic assistance to the PA [if it exists] must be suspended if (a) the Palestinians either obtain membership in the UN or any UN agency (outside an agreement negotiated with Israel) or (b) initiate or actively support an ICC investigation against any Israelis for alleged crimes against Palestinians.
Part (h) requires a reduction in economic aid to the Palestinians (assuming any exists) in an amount the Secretary determines “is equivalent to the amount expended by the Palestinian Authority, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and any successor or affiliated organizations with such entities as payments for acts of terrorism by individuals who are imprisoned after being fairly tried and convicted for acts of terrorism and by individuals who died committing acts of terrorism during the previous calendar year.” Notably, this reduction is in addition to the requirements of the Taylor Force Act (which is a separate law that will remain in effect unless/until it is repealed).
Part (i) requires a report to Congress “detailing steps taken by the Palestinian Authority to counter incitement of violence against Israelis and to promote peace and coexistence with Israel.”
Part (j) somewhat comically (given that the Trump Administration has for all intents and purposes de-recognized the PLO, having closed its office in Washington and closed the US consulate in Jerusalem) provides the President the authority to waive section 1003 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 (the 1987 law that bans the PLO from having an office in the U.S.), on the condition that the president certifies that the Palestinians have not joined the UN or any UN agency, and have not initiated or actively supported ICC action against any Israeli [this waiver, in various forms, dates to the start of the peace process when the Executive branch actually was out in front of Congress in seeking to improve relations with the Palestinians; in today’s reality, it is a bizarre anachronism].
Part (k) is perennial language barring any U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation.
Sec. 7040 Assistance for the West Bank and Gaza [which for now has been cut off by the Trump Administration, Taylor Force, and ATCA]
Oversight: Part (a) of this section of the bill requires that “30 days prior to the initial obligation of funds for the bilateral West Bank and Gaza Program, the Secretary of State shall certify to the Committees on Appropriations that procedures have been established to assure the Comptroller General of the United States will have access to appropriate United States financial information in order to review the uses of United States assistance for the Program funded under the heading ‘Economic Support Fund’ for the West Bank and Gaza.”
Vetting: Part (b) of this section requires that “Prior to the obligation of funds appropriated by this Act under the heading ‘Economic Support Fund’ for assistance for the West Bank and Gaza, the Secretary of State shall take all appropriate steps to ensure that such assistance is not provided to or through any individual, private or government entity, or educational institution that the Secretary knows or has reason to believe advocates, plans, sponsors, engages in, or has engaged in, terrorist activity nor, with respect to private entities or educational institutions, those that have as a principal officer of the entity’s governing board or governing board of trustees any individual that has been determined to be involved in, or advocating terrorist activity or determined to be a member of a designated foreign terrorist organization: Provided, That the Secretary of State shall, as appropriate, establish procedures specifying the steps to be taken in carrying out this subsection and shall terminate assistance to any individual, entity, or educational institution which the Secretary has determined to be involved in or advocating terrorist activity.”
Prohibition: Part (c) stipulates that “None of the funds appropriated under titles III through VI of this Act for assistance under the West Bank and Gaza Program may be made available for— (A) the purpose of recognizing or otherwise honoring individuals who commit, or have committed acts of terrorism; and (B) any educational institution located in the West Bank or Gaza that is named after an individual who the Secretary of State determines has committed an act of terrorism.” It also stipulates that “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, none of the funds made available by this or prior appropriations Acts, including funds made available by transfer, may be made available for obligation for security assistance for the West Bank and Gaza until the Secretary of State reports to the Committees on Appropriations on the benchmarks that have been established for security assistance for the West Bank and Gaza and reports on the extent of Palestinian compliance with such benchmarks.”
Reporting requirements: Part (d) stipulates that “Prior to the initial obligation of funds made available by this Act under the heading ‘Economic Support Fund’ for assistance for the West Bank and Gaza, the Secretary of State shall report to the Committees on Appropriations that the purpose of such assistance is to— (A) advance Middle East peace; (B) improve security in the region; (C) continue support for transparent and accountable government institutions; (D) promote a private sector economy; or (E) address urgent humanitarian needs.” It adds that “the reporting requirements in section 1404 of the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 (Public Law 110–252) shall apply to funds made available by this Act, including a description of modifications, if any, to the security strategy of the Palestinian Authority.”
As a reminder, these are:
Sec. 1404 of PL 110-252: “Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act and 180 days thereafter, the Secretary of State shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations a report on assistance provided by the United States for the training of Palestinian security forces, including detailed descriptions of the training, curriculum, and equipment provided; an assessment of the training and the performance of forces after training has been completed; and a description of the assistance that has been pledged and provided to Palestinian security forces by other donors: Provided, That not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall report to the Committees on Appropriations, in classified form if necessary, on the security strategy of the Palestinian Authority.”
Private Sector Partnership Programs: Part (e) stipulates that “Funds appropriated by this Act and prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs may be made available for private sector partnership programs for the West Bank and Gaza if such funds are authorized: Provided, That funds made available pursuant to this subsection shall be subject to prior consultation with the appropriate congressional committees, and the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.”
The Report adds: “Pursuant to subsection (e), the Committee supports $50,000,000 for private sector partnerships for the West Bank and Gaza should such funds be authorized.”
Oversight by USAID: Part (f) requires that the Administrator of USAID “ensure that Federal or non-Federal audits of all contractors and grantees, and significant subcontractors and sub-grantees, under the West Bank and Gaza Program, are conducted at least on an annual basis to ensure, among other things, compliance with this section.” It also stipulates that “Of the funds appropriated by this Act, up to $1,000,000 may be used by the Office of Inspector General of the United States Agency for International Development for audits, investigations, and other activities in furtherance of the requirements of this subsection.”
Comptroller General of the US Audit: Part (g) stipulates that “Subsequent to the certification specified in subsection (a), the Comptroller General of the United States shall conduct an audit and an investigation of the treatment, handling, and uses of all funds for the bilateral West Bank and Gaza Program, including all funds provided as cash transfer assistance, in fiscal year 2020 under the heading ‘‘Economic Support Fund’’, and such audit shall address— (1) the extent to which such Program complies with the requirements of subsections (b) and (c); and (2) an examination of all programs, projects, and activities carried out under such Program, including both obligations and expenditures.”
Notification: Part (h) stipulates that “Funds made available in this Act for West Bank and Gaza shall be subject to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.”
Following all of this bill and report text in effect deeming the Palestinians so terrible that they require a level of conditioning, oversight, limitations, sanctions, etc. unmatched in any other US bilateral relationship – the Report adds:
The Committee reaffirms its commitment to supporting United States actions that promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The Committee further reaffirms the long-standing bipartisan support for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that a lasting two-state solution is essential to the achievement of long-term peace and stability in the broader region.
Sec. 7041: Middle East & North Africa
[This section consolidates aid provisions for the entire Middle East, except for Israel and the Palestinians, as well as various other provisions that in the past were elsewhere in the bill.]
Sec. 7041 (a) Arab league boycott of Israel
Perennial bill text, in the form of a Sense of Congress (appearing this year in a new section of the bill) opposing the Arab League boycott of Israel, and the secondary boycott of American firms that have commercial ties with Israel.
The Report accompanying the bill exploits this provision to attack boycotts of both Israel and settlements (boycotts that represent individuals voluntary exercise of political free speech, in contrast to the Arab League boycott of Israel, which coerces individuals into boycotting Israel as a condition for doing business with Arab states), seeking to target both US actors and international partners and coerce them into NOT boycotting Israel or settlements. It states:
The Committee is concerned about international efforts to stigmatize and isolate Israel through the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement. The Committee directs, as part of the annual report to Congress on the Arab League Boycott of Israel, that the President add information about the BDS campaign, covering companies, international organizations, countries, and other organizations, including state investment vehicles, that are involved in promoting the movement, as well as specific steps the Department of State has taken and expects to take to discourage or end politically-motivated efforts to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel or Israeli entities. The Committee further directs the Secretary of State and USAID Administrator to strengthen policies and procedures to ensure organizations supported through funding are not participants in such efforts.
NOTE: What’s notable in this report language is not merely that it exists, which is outrageous in itself, but not new, having been added into the House SFOPS report last year – but the fact that the language is still there, unchanged, despite the fact that Democrats now hold the gavel.
Sec. 7041 (b). Egypt
Overall conditions on aid: This section of the bill stipulates that funds appropriated by this Act that are available for assistance for Egypt “may be made available notwithstanding any other provision of law restricting assistance for Egypt, except for section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, and may only be made available for assistance for the Government of Egypt if the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that such government is—(A) sustaining the strategic relationship with the United States; and (B) meeting its obligations under the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.”
Reminder: Section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 states that “No assistance shall be furnished under this Act or the Arms Export Control Act to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.” It adds that this prohibition “shall not apply if the Secretary determines and reports to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives, and the Committees on Appropriations that the government of such country is taking effective steps to bring the responsible members of the security forces unit to justice.”
ESF: The bill earmarks for Egypt up to $102.5 million in ESF and requires the Secretary of State to withhold from Egypt’s ESF, of which not less than $35 million is for higher education programs including $15 million for scholarships; provided that such funds “be made available for democracy programs, and for development programs in the Sinai” and provided that such funds “may not be available for cash transfer assistance or budget support.” It also stipulates that no ESF funding may be made available for “a contribution, voluntary or otherwise, to the ‘Civil Associations and Foundations Support Fund’, or any similar fund, established pursuant to Law 70 on Associations 1and Other Foundations Working in the Field of Civil Work published in the Official Gazette of Egypt on May 29, 2017.”
FMF: The bill earmarks up to $1.3 billion in FMF for Egypt, to remain available until September 30, 2021 (and stipulates that these funds may be transferred to the interest bearing account – a benefit granted to Egypt years ago by Congress to try to create some symmetry with Israel’s early disbursal provision). The bill stipulates that 20% of such funds “shall be withheld from obligation until the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of Egypt is taking, on a sustained and effective basis, the steps enumerated under this section in the report accompanying this Act.” The section stipulates that the certification does not apply to funding for counterterrorism, border security, and nonproliferation programs for Egypt.
WAIVER: The bill also provides the Secretary of State authority to waive the certification requirement – with respect to 95% of the withheld amount – for national security interests. The remaining 5% that is withheld can only be provided to Egypt “if the Secretary of State determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of Egypt has completed action to provide fair and commensurate compensation to American citizen April Corley for injuries suffered by Egyptian armed forces on September 13, 2015.” It also notes that “none of the funds withheld pursuant to subparagraph (A) shall be transferred to the interest bearing account referenced in subparagraph (A) until the determination in the preceding sentence has been provided to the Committees on Appropriations.”
NOTE: Based on a straight reading of the text, it is not clear if that last proviso applies to the full 20% withholding. The wording suggest that it does (“none of the funds withheld pursuant to paragraph (A) = the full 20% withholding), but the placement in the waiver para suggests the intent may be that it apply to the 20% minus the 95% that is subject to the waiver (as in, only 5% of the 20% would be withheld subject to resolution of April Corley’s claims).
The funding tables contained in the Report accompanying the bill breaks down funding for Egypt as follows:
ESF: $35 million; DA: 67.5 million; INCLE: $2 million; NADR: $3 million; IMET: $1.8 million; Global Health Programs – $10 million; FMF: $1.3 billion (Total: $1,419,300,000)
The Report notes:
The Committee notes the United States and Egypt share a strong partnership based on mutual interest in Middle East peace and stability, economic opportunity, and regional security. Egypt has long been an important strategic partner in the Middle East. Since the Camp David Accords, United States assistance to Egypt has played a central role in the country’s economic and military development. Despite significant turmoil in the region, Egypt remains an anchor of stability in the Middle East, as exemplified by its enduring forty-year peace with Israel. The Committee appreciates progress made over the last year in advancing shared interests with respect to combating terrorism, increasing pressure on North Korea, countering Iran’s malign influence in the region, and the acquittal of employees of American nongovernmental organizations that had been wrongly charged and convicted of crimes for operating in Egypt. Promoting a stable and prosperous Egypt, where the government preserves space for civil society and protects human rights, should continue to be a core objective of United States policy.
Withholding.—The Secretary of State shall withhold 20 percent of the funds provided for Egypt under the heading Foreign Military Financing Program until the Secretary certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of Egypt is meeting the governance and human rights conditions described under ‘‘Reports’’ in this section. A national security waiver is included in this Act. However, five percent of such withheld funds is excluded from the waiver and shall only be made available for obligation if the Secretary of State determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of Egypt has provided fair and commensurate compensation to American citizen, April Corley, for severe injuries sustained during an attack on her tour group by Egyptian armed forces on September 13, 2015.
In addition, the Committee notes that the funds subject to the five per-cent withholding shall not be transferred to the interest-bearing account until a final settlement has been reached. Funds made available for assistance for Egypt shall be subject to prior consultation and the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations. Such funds should be made available for democracy programs and for development programs in the Sinai. Funds shall not be made available for cash transfer assistance or budget support.
The Committee directs that not less than $35,000,000 of the funds made available for assistance for Egypt under the heading Development Assistance should be made available for higher education programs, including not less than $15,000,000 for scholarships for Egyptian students with high financial need to attend not- for-profit institutions of higher education in Egypt. Such institutions must meet standards equivalent to those required for United States institutional accreditation by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education. Not later than 45 days after enactment of this Act, the USAID Administrator shall consult with the Committees on Appropriations on implementation of funds made available for scholarships in Egypt.
The Committee encourages the USAID Administrator to implement programs that assist orphans and vulnerable children in Egypt, including children from religiously diverse populations. The Committee supports continued efforts to ensure religious freedom and tolerance, including for Christian communities in Egypt. The Secretary of State shall take all practicable steps to ensure that mechanisms are in place for monitoring, oversight, and control of funds made available by this subsection for assistance for Egypt.
Governance and human rights.—The Committee directs, not later than 45 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State to submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees on steps taken by the Government of Egypt to: (1) advance democracy and human rights in Egypt, including to govern democratically and protect religious minorities and the rights of women, which are in addition to steps taken during the previous calendar year for such purposes; (2) implement reforms that protect freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, including the ability of civil society organizations, human rights defenders, and the media to function without interference; (3) release political prisoners and provide detainees with due process of law; (4) hold Egyptian security forces accountable, including officers credibly alleged to have violated human rights; (5) investigate and prosecute cases of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances; (6) provide regular access for United States officials to monitor assistance in areas where the assistance is used; (7) adhere to the separation of powers and the rule of law, including constitutional limits on elected office and the role of the military in governance; and (8) comply with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2270 and other such resolutions regarding North Korea.
Military restructure.—The Committee directs that not later than 45 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall consult with the Committees on Appropriations on any plan to restructure military assistance for Egypt.
Sec. 7041 (c) Iran
This section of the bill states that funding in the bill (under Diplomatic Programs, ESF, and NADR) “shall be used by the Secretary of State to support the activities described under this section in the report accompanying this Act.” This section requires the Secretary of State to submit two reports to Congress:
(A) the semi-annual report required by section 135 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C. 2160e(d)(4)), as added by section 2 of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (Public Law 114–17).
(B) Not later than 180 days after the enactment of this Act, a report on “(i) the status of United States bilateral sanctions on Iran; (ii) the reimposition and renewed enforcement of secondary sanctions; and (iii) the impact such sanctions have had on Iran’s destabilizing activities throughout the Middle East.”
The Report notes:
Subsection (c) is modified from the prior year. Pursuant to paragraph (1), funding under the headings Diplomatic Programs, Economic Support Fund, and Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining and Related Programs shall be used by the Secretary of State for the following: (1) to support the United States policy to prevent Iran from achieving the capability to produce or otherwise obtain a nuclear weapon; (2) to support an expeditious response to any violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions or to efforts that advance Iran’s nuclear program; (3) to support the implementation, enforcement, and renewal of sanctions against Iran for its support of nuclear weapons development, terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missile and weapons proliferation; and (4) for democracy programs for Iran, to be administered by the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, Department of State, in consultation with the Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Department of State.
Sanctions.—Pursuant to paragraph (2), the Secretary of State shall report on Iran’s compliance of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as well as on the status of United States bilateral sanctions on Iran, the re-imposition and renewed enforcement of secondary sanctions, and the impact such sanctions have had on Iran’s destabilizing activities throughout the Middle East. Such re-port shall also include any entities involved in providing significant support for the development of a ballistic missile by the Government of Iran, including shipping and financing, and note whether such entities are currently under United States sanctions. The report shall be submitted in an unclassified form and contain a classified annex if necessary.
Sec. 7041 (d) Iraq
This section stipulates that funds may be made available for assistance to Iraq “for economic, stabilization, and humanitarian programs described under this section in the report accompanying this Act.” The section states that no funds in this Act may be used “to enter into a permanent basing rights agreement between the United States and Iraq.” The Report includes extensive language related to funding for Iraq (p 101-102)
Sec. 7041 (e) Jordan
The bill earmarks $1.525 billion for Jordan, of which not less than $745.1 million of ESF funding in the bill shall be for budget support for the Government of Jordan and not less than $425 million for FMF for Jordan [without any conditions/restrictions/provisos].
The funding table in the Report accompanying the bill breaks down funding for Jordan as follows:
DA – $311.4 million; ESF – $750 million; Global Health $21 million; NADR – $13.6 million; IMET – $4 million; FMF – $425 million (Total: $1.525 billion).
The Report notes:
The Committee notes the importance of the relationship with the Kingdom of Jordan and the strong leadership that Jordan continues to play in advancing peace and stability in the region. The Department of State should continue to support critical economic aid and to provide the assistance needed to ensure Jordan’s success in coalition operations, including to strengthen Jordan’s borders with Iraq and Syria.
Sec. 7041 (f) Lebanon
The bill text states that INCLE and FMF funding “may be made available for the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) or the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) to address security and stability requirements in areas affected by the conflict in Syria, following consultation with the appropriate congressional committees.” It notes that FMF funding “may be used only to professionalize the LAF and to strengthen border security and combat terrorism, including training and equipping the LAF to secure Lebanon’s borders, interdicting arms shipments, preventing the use of Lebanon as a safe haven for terrorist groups, and to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701,” with such funding subject to additional oversight and consultation with Congress. It adds that no funding shall be made to the ISF or LAF “if these entities fall under control by a foreign terrorist organization, as designated pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189).” It also states that ESF funding may be made available “notwithstanding section 1224 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003 (Public Law 107–228; 22 U.S.C. 2346 note).”
The Report accompanying the bill states:
The Committee continues to be concerned about Hezbollah’s growing influence within the Government of Lebanon. The Committee directs the Secretary of State to submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations, not later than 45 days after enactment of this Act, on the extent of Hezbollah’s influence within such government, including the LAF, and what steps are being taken to prevent the use of Lebanon as a safe haven for terrorist groups, to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, and to prevent the building of cross-border tunnels into Israel and weapons factories inside Lebanon.
The Committee is concerned by UNIFIL’s ability to fulfill its mandate in southern Lebanon to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces in establishing an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government and of UNIFIL. Not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, the Committee directs the Secretary of State to submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations assessing UNIFIL’s efforts to detect tunnels built by Hezbollah in the south of Lebanon and the steps the Administration is taking to urge the Security Council to sanction Hezbollah for violations of UNSCR 1701. The report should also include an assessment of whether UNIFIL is complying with its new requirement to increase its visible presence in southern Lebanon and over-see the LAF’s accelerated deployment in southern Lebanon.
Sec. 7041 (g) Libya
This section of the bill provides that funding may be made available “for stabilization assistance for Libya, including border security,” except for certain infrastructure projects as stipulated in section 7041(f)(2) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2014 (division K of Public Law 113–76). Before any such funds may be provided, the bill requires the Secretary of State to certify that “all practicable steps have been taken to ensure that mechanisms are in place for monitoring, oversight, and control of such funds.” No funding may be made available for assistance for the central government of Libyan “unless the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that such government is cooperating with United States Government efforts to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the attack on United States personnel and facilities in Benghazi, Libya in September 2012…” – a limitation that “shall not apply to funds made available for the purpose of protecting United States Government personnel or facilities.”
The Report notes:
Subsection (g) remains unchanged from prior year language regarding monitoring, oversight, and control of any funds. No funds shall be made available for Libya by this Act unless the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of Libya is cooperating with U.S. efforts to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the attack on U.S. personnel and facilities in Benghazi, Libya in September 2012
Sec. 7041 (h) Morocco
This section stipulates that ESF and DA (Development Assistance) funding may be made available for assistance for the Western Sahara. It also stipulates that FMF for Morocco “may only be used for the purposes requested in the Congressional Budget Justification, Foreign Operations, Fiscal Year 2017.”
The Report notes (not under “Morocco” but alphabetically, between Tunisia and Yemen):
Western Sahara.—The Committee supports the United Nation’s efforts to resolve the Western Sahara conflict in an equitable, peaceful, and diplomatic manner.
Sec. 7041 (i) Saudi Arabia
NEW: The bill includes new language stipulating that, “None of the funds appropriated by this Act should be used to support the sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.”
The Report notes:
Subsection (i) includes a new prohibition on any funds made available by this Act from supporting the sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. Not later than 45 days after enactment of the Act, the Committee directs the Secretary of State to submit a report, which may be submitted in classified form and shall incorporate relevant information from other Federal agencies, to the appropriate congressional committees regarding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the Consulate of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2, 2018. The report shall include a detailed assessment of the steps taken by (1) the Government of Saudi Arabia to investigate and prosecute all those responsible for ordering, carrying out, and covering up such murder; and (2) the steps taken by Department of State to address corruption and violation of human rights by individuals within the Saudi government.
Sec. 7041 (j) Syria
This bill states that ESF, INCLE, and PKO funding “may be made available, notwithstanding any other provision of law, for non-lethal stabilization assistance for Syria, including for emergency medical and rescue response and chemical weapons use investigations.” Such funds may not be made available for a project or activity that “supports or otherwise legitimizes the Government of Iran, the Government of the Russian Federation, foreign terrorist organizations…or a proxy of Iran in Syria” and “should not be used in areas of Syria controlled by a government led by Bashar al-Assad or associated forces.” Such funding shall be subject to specified monitoring/oversight and consultation/notification requirements.
The Report notes:
Pursuant to subsection (j)(1), funding for non-lethal assistance is limited to emergency medical and rescue response and chemical weapons use investigations. Subsection (j)(2) prohibits any funds from supporting or otherwise legitimizing the government of Iran, the Government of the Russian Federation, foreign terrorist organizations, or a proxy of Iran, and states that funds should not be used in areas controlled by the Assad government. The Committee directs that funds shall be made available for assistance to organizations in Syria, only on an open and competitive basis, to continue to strengthen the capability of Syrian civil society organizations to address the immediate and long-term needs of the Syrian people in a manner that supports the sustainability of such organizations in implementing Syrian-led humanitarian and development programs. Such funds shall be administered by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the Department of State. The Committee remains concerned about the lengthy displacement of Syrians and the ongoing burden they face, as well as the continued strain Syrian refugees are placing on host communities. The Committee urges the Department of State to continue to: (1) assist host countries to expand their national systems to accommodate refugee needs; (2) increase host country capacity to deliver basic services to their own citizens; (3) strengthen the ability of local governments to respond to the refugee influx; (4) employ policies and programs to close gaps in distribution of need-based aid to at-risk minority populations; and (5) ensure that refugees have freedom of movement and meaningful access to economic opportunity.
Reports Refugees.—The Committee is deeply concerned about the safety of Syrian refugees who have returned, or may return, to Syria, and directs the Department of State to submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations 90 days after the enactment of this Act, de-tailing the dangers Syrian refugees face and what the United States, the UN, other nations, and international partners can do to alleviate suffering and secure the safety of returning refugees.
Humanitarian assistance.—The Committee directs USAID to ensure humanitarian and other foreign assistance for Syrian stabilization and reconstruction efforts be focused in democratic Syria or areas of Syria not under the Assad regime’s control. The Secretary of State and USAID Administrator shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees not later than 45 days after enactment of this Act, containing a detailed assessment on the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Syria, which shall include the following: (1) the challenges of access to areas of Syria controlled by the Government of Syria or associated forces for purposes of providing United States humanitarian assistance, including assistance funded through multilateral institutions and international governmental organizations; (2) where such United States humanitarian assistance has been able to be delivered in such areas; (3) a description of where such United States humanitarian assistance has been denied access in such areas; (4) how the United States Government is working to improve access to such areas; (5) the roles and responsibilities of United States allies and partners and other countries in the region in ensuring access to such areas; (6) how such United States humanitarian assistance and implementing partners of such assistance are monitored and evaluated; (7) the major challenges that the United States faces in monitoring such United States humanitarian assistance and how the United States is working to overcome such challenges; and (8) the strategy of the United States to deliver humanitarian assistance to areas of Syria controlled by the Government of Syria or associated forces and in which the Government of Syria or associated forces is impeding access to such areas.
Sec. 7041 (k) Tunisia
This subsection of the bill states: “Of the funds appropriated under titles III and IV of this Act, not less than $191,400,000 shall be made available for assistance for Tunisia.
The funding table in the Report accompanying the bill breaks down funding for Tunisia as follows:
DA – $40 million; ESF – $45 million; INCLE – $13 million; NADR – $6.1 million; IMET – $2.3 million; FMF – $85 million (Total: $191.4 million).
The Report notes:
The Committee notes that a stable and viable democratic Tunisia is critical to regional security supports the government of Tunisia’s efforts to continue improving the security situation in the country, democratic governance, and economic reform.
Sec. 7041 (l) Yemen
This subsection of the bill states that, “Funds appropriated by this Act under the heading ‘‘Economic Support Fund’’ shall be made available for stabilization assistance for Yemen.”
The Report notes:
“The Committee remains concerned about the significant humanitarian needs in Yemen and the lack of consistent access to allow relief to be provided. Not later than 45 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the USAID Administrator, shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations that addresses delivery of humanitarian assistance, including access for humanitarian organizations to deliver assistance; the capacity of Yemeni ports to receive commercial and humanitarian goods; and the conditions required to transition from humanitarian assistance to longer-term development assistance. The Committee also recognizes the importance of fuel to alleviating the humanitarian crisis, including access into all Red Sea Ports, which are critical lifelines for the Yemeni population.
Sec. 7046: Europe and Eurasia
Part (d) of this section of the bill states: “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act and prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs, may be made available to transfer or deliver, or to facilitate the transfer or delivery of, F-35 aircraft to Turkey, including any defense articles or services related to such aircraft, until the Secretary of State certifies to the appropriate congressional committees that the Government of Turkey is not purchasing the S-400 missile defense system from Russia and will not accept the delivery of such system.”
Sec. 7047: Stabilization & Development in Regions Impacted by Extremism & Conflict
This section states that funding made be made available “for programs and activities to counter and defeat violent extremism and foreign fighters abroad.” It earmarks and lays out requirement for provision of not less than $195 million for “the Relief and Recovery Fund for assistance for areas liberated or at risk from, or under the control of, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, other terrorist organizations, or violent extremist organizations, including for stabilization assistance for vulnerable ethnic and religious minority communities affected by conflict.” It also earmarks and lays out requirements for provision of not less than $5 million for “programs to promote accountability in Iraq and Syria for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.” Finally, it stipulates that, with respect to “fragile states and extremism,” funds appropriated by this Act “shall be made available for the purposes of section 7080 of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2017 (division J of Public Law 115–31), subject to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.”
Sec. 7048: United Nations
No $$ for agencies headed by bad guys
Part (b) of this section prohibits funding expenses for expenses for any US delegation to anything having to do with, or contributions to any agency, body, or commission associated with the UN that is chaired or presided over by a country, the government of which the Secretary of State has determined, according to U.S. law, “has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.” The bill includes authority for the Secretary of state to waive this prohibition if it is important for the national interest of the United States.
Pressure on UN Human Rights Council (over Israel)
In the past, part (c) of this section of the bill has barred funding for the UNHRC unless the Secretary reports to Congress that participation is important to US interests and that the Council is taking significant steps to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item – a formulation that suggests that it is Congress that objects to participating in the UNHRC, in opposition to an Executive branch that may disagree and that Congress may wish to rein in.
In this year’s draft, the formula is reversed, with Part (c) explicitly permitting funding for the UNHRC “unless the Secretary of State determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that participation in the Council does not serve the national interest of the United States and that the Council is not taking significant steps to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item nor taking actions to ensure integrity in the election of members to such Council.” The section goes on to stipulate that such report opposing funding for the UNHRC, shall “include a description of how the national interest is better served by our withdrawal from the Council.”
As now framed, the language suggests greater Congressional support for participation in the UNHRC and puts the onus on the Executive to make the case for why it should not be so. It also continues a requirement for a report “on the resolutions considered in the United Nations Human Rights Council during the previous 12 months, and on steps taken to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item and ensure integrity in the election of members to such Council.”
The Report accompanying the bill adds:
The Committee remains concerned about the credibility and effectiveness of UNHRC and notes with disappointment the ascension to UNHRC of countries with poor human rights records. The Committee is also concerned with the continued, disproportionate focus of UNHRC on Israel and its anti-Israel bias.
The Committee continues to disapprove of UNHRC resolution A/ HRC/31/L.39, which is counterproductive to achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The Committee directs the Secretary to work with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to minimize the impact of the compilation of the database called for under that resolution.
NOTE: UNHRC resolution A/ HRC/31/L.39 is the UNHRC resolution requiring the creation of a public database of companies doing business in settlements. Congress has fully bought into the argument made by settlement advocates that the database is a form of anti-Israel blacklist — despite the fact that (a) it is supposed to include information solely on businesses working in settlements, not in Israel, and (b) the database includes no mechanism or even intent to compel anyone to boycott companies listed. Indeed, supporters of settlements could just as easily use the database as a guide for companies they want to support (in fact, such lists already exist online, maintained by supporters of settlements to help people know where to buy if they want to support settlements). WIth this statement in the Report, Appropriators are in effect stating that the Committee views the mere act of seeking to create transparency about settlements as objectionable.
Part (d) of this section of the bill stipulates that funds appropriated by this Act under title III [see table above, earmarking $170.55 million for UNRWA] SHALL [note this word – making this is a hard earmark] be made available to UNRWA unless the Secretary of State determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that UNRWA—
(1) inappropriately utilizes Operations Support Officers in the West Bank, Gaza, and other fields of operation to inspect UNRWA installations;
(2) is not promptly acting to address any staff or beneficiary violation of its own policies (including the policies on neutrality and impartiality of employees) and the legal requirements under section 301(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961;
(3) is not implementing procedures to maintain the neutrality of its facilities, including implementing a no-weapons policy, and conducting regular inspections of its installations, to ensure they are only used for humanitarian or other appropriate purposes;
(4) is not taking necessary and appropriate measures to ensure it is operating in compliance with the conditions of section 301(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and continuing regular reporting to the Department of State on actions it has taken to ensure conformance with such conditions;
(5) is not taking steps to ensure the content of all educational materials currently taught in UNRWA-administered schools and summer camps is consistent with the values of human rights, dignity, and tolerance and does not induce incitement;
(6) is engaging in operations with financial institutions or related entities in violation of relevant United States law, and is not taking steps to improve the financial transparency of the organization; and
(7) is not in compliance with the United Nations Board of Auditors’ biennial audit requirements and is not implementing in a timely fashion the Board’s recommendations.
NOTE: The above text represents a departure from previous bills, in that in the past, part (d) provided funding to UNRWA but required the Secretary to report to Congress that UNRWA was meeting the list of conditions. This text reverses that requirement, hard earmarking funding for UNRWA (and with an actual number specified in a new account of the Report), unless the Secretary of State determines and reports that UNRWA is failing to meet the requirements laid out in that same list. Based on this formulation, an Administration that wanted to de-fund UNRWA could likely manufacture a pretext for doing so (though UNRWA arguably meets and exceeds the conditions listed). But the reversal of the requirement, along with the hard funding earmark (which is unprecedented) represents a dramatic shift in tone and an historic statement of support for UNRWA from appropriators, which now is able to receive funding from both the IO&P and MRA accounts.
Report language accompanying the bill states:
Pursuant to section 7048(d), funds appropriated under this heading shall be made available to UNRWA unless the Secretary of State determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that UNRWA is violating certain policies related to neutrality, impartiality, prohibiting weapons in their facilities, regular inspections, educational materials, financial transparency, and auditing practices.
Pursuant to subsection (d), funds appropriated under title III shall be made available to UNRWA unless the Secretary of State determines and reports to the Committee on Appropriations that UNRWA is violating a number of policies related to neutrality, impartiality, prohibiting weapons in their facilities, regular inspections, educational materials, financial transparency, and auditing practices.
The Committee notes that since UNRWA began operations in 1950, the United States has contributed approximately $6,248,000,000 to the Agency; which has been on average one-third of UNRWA’s annual budget until fiscal year 2018. The Committee remains concerned with the suspension of assistance to UNRWA that occurred in 2018, particularly in the absence of an alternative operational, humanitarian organization and observes, with great concern, that the withholding of United States assistance has greatly exacerbated poverty, fueled extremism, and further reduced the prospects for peace.
Results of assistance.—The Committee directs that, not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations detailing the rationale behind the Department’s determination to suspend assistance to UNRWA. Such a report shall also contain a detailed comparison of UNRWA’s human development and humanitarian services for each of the seven decades of UNRWA’s operation, to include: (1) the number of Palestinians receiving services in UNRWA health facilities, including child survival and maternal mortality rates, vaccination rates, and availability of needed medical supplies, including contraception (2) living conditions, including the number of UNRWA-built temporary housing, long-term housing, and camps; (3) the number of UNRWA-operated schools and the total number of students enrolled in school, disaggregated by age, sex, and education level (pre-primary, primary, secondary, post-secondary/non-higher education, vocational training and higher education); (4) graduation versus drop-out rates from all UNRWA-operated schools, disaggregated by age, sex, and education level; and (5) job placement rates following completion of higher education versus unemployment rates, disaggregated by age and sex.
Pressure on UNESCO & Other UN Agencies (over Israel)
Part (e) requires reporting to Congress on any U.S. contributions to international organizations that are withheld due to any provision of law [for example, U.S. funding to UNESCO, barred because UNESCO admitted the Palestinians as full members].
Sec. 7047 (i) Stabilization and Development in Regions Impacted by Extremism and Conflict
This subsection earmarks not less than $195 million from ESF, INCLE, NADR, PKO and FMF for “for the Relief and Recovery Fund for assistance for areas liberated or at risk from, or under the control of, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, other terrorist organizations, or violent extremist organizations, including for stabilization assistance for vulnerable ethnic and religious minority communities affected by conflict…” It also earmarks not less than $5 million in INCLE ” to promote accountability in Iraq and Syria for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes…”
Sec. 7051: Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The section stipulates that “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to support or justify the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by any official or contract employee of the United States Government.” It further notes that notwithstanding any other provision of law, funds may be made available “for assistance to eliminate torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by foreign police, military or other security forces in countries receiving assistance from funds appropriated by this Act.”
Sec. 7060. Sector Allocations
Part (f), entitled “Reconciliation Programs,” states that “Funds appropriated by this Act under the heading ‘Development Assistance’ shall be made available to support people-to-people reconciliation programs which bring together individuals of different ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds from areas of civil strife and war: Provided, That the USAID Administrator shall consult with the Committees on Appropriations, prior to the initial obligation of funds, on the uses of such funds, and such funds shall be subject to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.”
The Report accompanying the bill states:
“Reconciliation programs.—The Committee recommendation provides $30,000,000 under this heading to support people-to-people reconciliation programs that bring together individuals of different ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds from areas of civil strife and war, which shall include reconciliation activities between Israelis and Palestinians at not less than the prior year level. Funds shall be awarded through a competitive grant process.”