House Passes Anti-Palestinian Legislation, Senate Fight Continues
Press Release, CNI, 23 May 2006
The House of Representatives today passed a controversial bill (H.R. 4681) that would punish all Palestinians, not just members of Hamas, for electing a Hamas-led government in January's legislative elections. The Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 passed the House under suspension of the rules by a vote of 361-37 (with 9 members voting "Present"), despite nearly four months of strong opposition from the Council for the National Interest and other national organizations, including Churches for Middle East Peace, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Americans for Peace Now, and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. The Bush Administration itself deemed the bill "unnecessary" in a memo outlining its opposition.
"With the passage through the House of H.R. 4681, which divided the Israel lobby because of its harshness, the fight now moves to the Senate, where S. 2370 remains in a state of suspended animation in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Obviously, the Israel lobby hoped to have a final bill in time for the appearance of Ehud Olmert at a joint session of Congress on Wednesday morning. The debate was rancorous. The Tuesday morning interview with Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) on C-SPAN was marked by a shouting match between Ackerman and the people who called in from all over the country. We hope that both Palestinian Americans and ordinary Americans will make their anger felt as the bill in the Senate is taken up," said CNI President Eugene Bird.
In a three hour floor debate on Monday evening, several representatives came to the floor to express their opposition to the bill, including Democrats Earl Blumenauer (OR), Lois Capps (CA), John Dingell (MI), Maurice Hinchey (NY), Marcy Kaptur (OH), Dennis Kucinich (OH), Betty McCollum (MN), David Price (NC), Nick Rahall (WV) and Republican Ray LaHood (IL).
Introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) in February, H.R. 4681 would:
Strictly limit assistance provided to the Palestinian Authority and NGOs working in the West Bank and Gaza to aid necessary to meet "basic human health needs," including food, water, medicine and sanitation services, unless the Palestinian Authority fulfills a long list of unrealistic and unachievable benchmarks.
Deduct a percentage from the U.S. annual dues to the United Nations that goes to standing committees that advocate for Palestinian human rights.
Deny visas to all members of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Legislative Council, including non-Hamas members of the PLC that support the peace process, reject violence, and recognize Israel.
Prohibit the Palestinian Authority or PLO from having representation in the United States, including the PLO information office in Washington and the Palestinian Permanent Observer Mission to the UN.
Contact: Carlton Cobb, 202-863-2951, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Council for the National Interest is a non-profit, non-partisan grassroots organization founded seventeen years ago by former Congressmen Paul Findley (R-IL) and Pete McCloskey (R-CA) to advocate a new direction for U.S. Middle East policy. CNI seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values, protects our national interests, and contributes to a just solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as to restore a political environment in America in which voters and their elected officials are free from the undue influence and pressure of a foreign country, namely Israel.
Palestine Center Denounces Passage of H.R. 4681
For Immediate Release
Contact: Samar Assad
Washington, DC (23 May 2006) - The Palestine Center strongly deplores today’s passage of House Resolution 4681, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The central provision of this resolution prohibits the United States from providing direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) unless the U.S. President certifies that it has fulfilled a long list of subjective and ambiguous conditions. Current law already prohibits the United States from providing direct assistance to the PA unless the President signs a national security waiver.
However, H.R. 4681 goes far beyond reiterating the current U.S. ban on direct assistance to the PA; it also calls for provisions that punish and isolate the Palestinian people for exercising their right to vote by restricting humanitarian aid, prohibiting official Palestinian diplomacy or representation in the United States, and even denying Palestinians the ability to receive assistance through international financial institutions.
Although the resolution was introduced after the election of Hamas in the January 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, its ramifications, if signed into law, reach far beyond Hamas.
The resolution, as passed, does not only target officials from the current ruling party. It derails any diplomatic contact with those who seek an end to conflict and a two-state solution based on mutual security and recognition.
The resolution targets the Palestinian people, NGOs and Palestinian civil society as a whole by naming the Palestinian Territory and the Palestinian Authority as a terrorist entity and by severely restricting aid and civil support for Palestinians and Palestinian institutions.
Contrary to the arguments of its supporters, such broad overreaching bans limit the U.S. administration’s efforts to realize the two-state solution and bring about a negotiated settlement to the conflict, which, if not secured, will damage U.S. national security interests.
Supporters of the resolution must be aware that as passed, the resolution puts the Palestinian territory and the Palestinian Authority, regardless of whom is in power, in a state of political, economic and social instability that will ripple throughout the region and only further affect U.S. allies in the region, including the very state the resolution purports to protect: Israel.
The Palestine Center is the educational program of the Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development, an independent non-profit organization based in Washington, DC. Established in 1991, the Center provides a Palestinian and Arab perspective to the media, policy, political and academic communities through briefings, conferences, in-depth studies and more. It focuses on the relationship between the United States and the Middle East, with particular emphasis on Palestine and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For more information, visit www.thejerusalemfund.org.
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