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Legislative Roundup - July 1, 2005

I. ForOps Update - House; II. ForOps Update - Senate; III. SAC Markup - Spotlight on Egypt; IV. Senate Road Map Hearing - Lugar on the Record; V. Bills & Resolutions VI. On the Record (House ForOps)

for the week ending July 1, 2005

I. ForOps Update - House
II. ForOps Update - Senate
III. SAC Markup - Spotlight on Egypt
IV. Senate Road Map Hearing - Lugar on the Record
V. Bills & Resolutions
VI. On the Record (House ForOps)

NOTE: Congress will be in recess next week, but there will be a special Bonus recess edition of the Round-Up.


On June 28th the full House debated HR 3057, the "Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill, 2006." The bill passed late in the day (around 10:30pm) by a vote of 393-32.

For full details of the Middle East-related provisions of the bill, see the June 17th Round-Up. Please note that Round-Up mistakenly left $40 million in funds from the "Migration and Refugee Assistance" account for refugee resettlement in Israel (earmarked in the report). The committee report notes that "the number of migrants resettling in Israel has dramatically declined in recent years, from nearly 54,000 in the year 2000 to a projected 13,000 in 2005." The current bill's allocation is $10 million less than the previous year's allocation of $50 million (which, based on Committee's own estimate of the number of refugees coming to Israel in 2005, nets out to around $3850 per refugee in FY05).


As expected, following attacks on Egypt's aid program in the subcommittee and full committee markups of the bill and in the International Relations Committee (see previous Round-Ups for details), the Egypt aid package again came under attack during the floor consideration of HR 3057.

In this case, the attack came in the form of an amendment offered by Rep. Pitts (R-PA), who sought to cut Egypt's military aid by $750 million and shift it to programs targeting malaria. Pitts argued that "Reducing Egypt's military subsidy by $750 million will serve to send a strong message. Money sent to a nation, even a strong ally like Egypt, that refuses to make the necessary political, democratic and human rights reforms should be redirected to a place that better represents our values. In this case I can think of no better use for this funding than to treat and prevent malaria in Africa."

ForOps Subcommittee Chairman Kolbe (R-AZ) spoke in strong opposition to the amendment (for his full remarks, see section VI, below). Speaking in apparent support of the amendment (but later voting against it), ForOps ranking minority member Lowey (D-CA) concluded "We know Egypt is listening to our debate today. A lot is at stake. So the one message I have is this: great nations recognize when the changing times will leave them behind, and they stay ahead of the curve. I hope we will see the pace of reform quicken and the quality of cooperation increase in the coming weeks and months."

Finally, Appropriations Committee ranking minority member Obey (D-WI) - whose amendment to earmark $100 million from Egypt's economic aid for education and democracy programs had been adopted during the full committee markup - also opposed the Pitts amendment, stating "I think every Member of this House would like to be able to vote for this amendment because we like where the money would be put; but we also have a responsibility, regardless of party, to try to see to it that in the attempt to send messages we do not blow things up in different regions of the world. So I have absolutely no doubt that this amendment would produce a most irresponsible result in the region..." Appropriations Chairman Lewis (R-CA) appeared to endorse these views, taking time during the debate to compliment Obey on his floor statement and his statements in Committee, noting that "we laid the foundation to let people in the Middle East know how serious we are about a clear message..."

The amendment was subsequently defeated by a vote of 87-326, with 20 members not voting.


Rep. Otter (R-ID) offered an to limit the funds "for the Palestinian Authority (or any other Palestinian entity) or for the Palestinian people" to 25 percent of the total funds per quarter of the fiscal year, and to require that no funds be made available to the PA, Palestinian entities or the Palestinian people during any quarter of the fiscal year unless the Secretary of State "determines that the Palestinian Authority has not provided support for acts of international terrorism during the three- month period preceding the first day of that quarter." The amendment is similar to one he offered during debate over the ForOps bill (HR 2800) in the 108th Congress (ruled out of order and withdrawn), and to a freestanding bill he subsequently introduced on September 9, 2003 (HR 3048).

Arguing in support of his amendment, Otter stated, "I rise today to correct what I believe to be a fatal flaw in the way we administer our foreign aid. We cannot truly be effective, either domestically or in our role as the world leader on the world stage, when our foreign aid policy forces us to support our friends while we are indiscriminately doling out money to our and their enemies at the same time. All the effort we put into promoting peace and cooperation is meaningless without requiring accountability from the recipients of our assistance..."

Otter went on to support his amendment, as he has in the past, with the false argument that without it the U.S. will, at the beginning of the fiscal year, hand over a lump sum of aid - with no oversight or strings attached - to the Palestinian Authority. Otter's argument is based, apparently, on a complete failure to understand both the specifics of the U.S. aid program for the Palestinians (which includes far-reaching, highly intrusive and exhaustive reporting and oversight requirements, and a ban on direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority unless the President declares uses a national security waiver), and the fact that, with a few exceptions (e.g., all aid to Israel and some aid to Egypt), the U.S. provides its foreign assistance on a pay-as-you-go basis, leaving Congress the ability to place a "hold" on funds when some specific concerns or policy considerations arise.

Otter's amendment was again ruled out of order and, once again, withdrawn.


Rep. Weiner (D-NY) offered an amendment to bar any assistance to Saudi Arabia; a similar amendment he offered to the previous year's ForOps bill was adopted, over the objections of ForOps Subcommittee Chairman Kolbe (R-AZ) and objections by the Administration (see the Congressional Record for July 15, 2004, for details). An identical amendment offered by Weiner to the FY05 Supplemental, HR 1268, was defeated by a vote of 196-231, following a very strong statement by Kolbe (R-AZ), who stopped just short of accusing Weiner of grandstanding (since the bill contained no funds for Saudi Arabia and the existing ban on aid to Saudi Arabia in the prior Forops bill would apply to the supplemental as well.)

In a replay of last year's debate, Weiner, supported by Lowey (D-NY), Berkley (D-NV) and Ferguson (R-NJ), blasted Saudi Arabia for human rights abuses, religious extremism, supporting terror, anti-Semitism, failing to take sufficient steps to help the war on terror, poor treatment of women, etc... Opposing the amendment, Rep. Kolbe noted that "This is another one of those amendments that is difficult to speak against, I suppose, because we all have our problems with the record in Saudi Arabia. But it is also one that when we look at it in the cold light, I think we recognize that it does not do what it says it is going to do, it is symbolic, and the symbolism comes down on the wrong side.

"...this bill provides a really very small sum of $25,000 to the International Military Education and Training program, or IMET, to help train and increase military contracts with the Saudi military...this results in Saudi Arabia spending approximately $13 million of its own funds on an annual basis to train over 400 students at U.S. military schools. This training exposes Saudi officers to U.S. military doctrines, training regimes, systems and, most importantly, to U.S. values. With the Global War on Terrorism, now is not the time to turn our backs on those who have albeit belatedly, turned to us for assistance and cooperation...There is no question that the Saudi Arabian government has been remiss in the past in its commitments to combating terrorism, but that is changing and, above all, we need to be encouraging the change, not discouraging it, which is precisely, of course, what this amendment would do..."

The amendment passed by a roll call vote of 293-132.


On June 29th the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations Subcommittee met in a pro forma markup and reported out the FY06 ForOps Appropriations Bill to the full committee. The markup consisted of brief opening statements by Chairman McConnell (R- KY) (who noted that amendments should be held until the full committee markup), ranking minority member Leahy (D-VT), and committee member Landrieu (D-LA) - the only Senators present. Sen. McConnell noted that the bill fully funds the Administration's requests for Israel, Egypt, and Jordan.

On June 30th the full Appropriations Committee met to mark up the FY06 ForOps bill. The Committee agreed to report the bill out of Committee, adopting an amendment in the nature of a substitute - i.e., deleting the entire House text of HR 3057 and replacing it with its own version. The Committee further amended the text with a Managers' amendment consisting of 20 en bloc amendments agreed to in advance by both sides.

Bill Details (discussed in the order they appear in the bill)

1. ESF:

Israel: $240 million Egypt: $495 million Jordan: $250 million Lebanon: $35 million MEPI: $120 million


Israel: The bill requires disbursal of aid to Israel within 30 days of the enactment of the bill into law (perennial provision).

Egypt: The language includes prior year language barring the Government of Egypt from having any say in the selection of NGOs receiving ESF earmarked for pro-democracy programs. In addition, there were significant changes to the ESF program, as follows: prior year language making ESF conditional on Egypt undertaking additional "significant economic reforms" was changed to "significant economic and political reforms" -mirroring language added by the Committee last year, but removed in conference. In addition, the bill earmarks $35 million for democracy programs and $5 million for scholarships for the American University in Cairo. Finally, the bill includes language to withhold $227.6 million of ESF until the Secretary of State certifies that Egypt has met benchmarks for reform specified in a U.S.-Egypt Memorandum of Understanding (signed March 20, 2005), and that Egypt has agreed to permit the installation of a transmitter for Radio Sawa in Egypt.

Jordan: The report notes Committee support for Jordan's economic reforms, and states that "given the singular nature of that country's contributions to regional stability, the Committee recommends the State Department consider increased levels of economic assistance for Jordan in future budget requests."

Lebanon: The bill earmarks $4 million for American educational institutions in Lebanon. The report notes that the Committee is closely following events in Lebanon, "including reports of Syrian interference in Lebanese political affairs through the use of violence and other means." The Committee encourages the Department of State "continue to press Syria to cease its destabilizing activities in Lebanon and elsewhere in the region."

MEPI: The bill earmarks $120 million for the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). The report language specifically mentions: American University of Beirut; American University of Cairo; the Lebanese American University; the Institute for Sustainable Communities; and Israel's Center for International Cooperation (MASHAV).

2. Assistance for the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union

This section includes prior year language requiring that 60 percent of funds appropriated for the Government of Russia be withheld until the President certifies in writing to the Appropriations Committee that Russia (among other things) has "terminated implementation of arrangements to provide Iran with technical expertise, training, technology, or equipment necessary to develop a nuclear reactor, related nuclear research facilities or programs, or ballistic missile capability."

3. Migration and Refugee Assistance

The bill provides $40 million be made available "for refugees from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and other refugees resettling in Israel." In addition, this section contains the usual annual stipulation that funds may be made available for a headquarters contribution to the International Committee of the Red Cross only if the Secretary of State determines and so reports to Congress that the Magen David Adom Society of Israel is not being denied participation in the activities of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

4. Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs

Perennial bill language requiring that funds appropriated for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) may provided only if the Secretary of State determines and reports to Congress that Israel is not being denied its right to participate in the activities of the Agency

5. FMF

Israel: $2.28 billion Egypt: $1.3 billion Jordan: $206 million Tunisia: $10 million

Israel: The bill stipulates that funds for Israel are to be disbursed in a lump sum no later than 30 days of the ForOps bill becoming law (as per past practice). The bill also stipulates of the aid, Israel may spend $595 million on procurements in Israel (unless specified, FMF must be spent in the US).

Egypt: In a break with past practice that may further indicate the desire to pressure Egypt, the committee did NOT include an earmark for Egypt's FMF in either the bill language - where the funds have always been previously earmarked - or the report. It appears that many Appropriators were unaware of the missing earmark, which is expected to be restored later in the appropriations process; the earmark is politically and symbolically important, and, from an appropriations perspective it would be very strange to fund $1.3 billion in FMF without expressing any views on where those funds should go. The FMF section of the bill language does include the provision under which part of Egypt's FMF is placed in an interest bearing account, as in prior years.

6. General Provisions

- Sec. 6006: Perennial prohibition on Taxation of United States Assistance. While this provision appears generic (applying to all countries/entities receiving US aid) the only country/entity explicitly identified is the West Bank and Gaza. This reflects the genesis of this now perennial provision - the allegation in a previous year that the Palestinian Authority (PA) was taxing U.S. assistance provided to NGOs, thereby indirectly benefiting from US assistance designed specifically to bypass the PA.

- Sec. 6007: Perennial bill language banning aid to Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Iran, and Syria, extending to loans, credits, insurance, and guarantees of the Export- Import Bank or its agents.

- Sec. 6010: Commercial Leasing of Defense Articles. This provision permits financing to be provided to Israel, Egypt and NATO and major non-NATO allies for the procurement by leasing (including leasing with an option to purchase) of defense articles from United States commercial suppliers, if the President determines that there are compelling foreign policy or national security reasons for those defense articles being provided by commercial lease rather than by government-to-government sale.

- Sec. 6026: This section earmarks not less than $25 million for programs and activities to foster democracy, human rights, civic education, women's development, press freedom, and the rule of law in countries with a significant Muslim population, and where such programs and activities would be important to United States efforts to respond to, deter, or prevent acts of international terrorism." It also earmarks $7 million for "making grants to educational, humanitarian and nongovernmental organizations and individuals inside Iran to support the advancement of democracy and human rights in Iran." The In addition, it states that notwithstanding any other provision of law, funds appropriated under this subsection "may be made available for democracy, human rights, and rule of law programs for Syria and Iran."

- Sec. 6027: Perennial bill language prohibiting aid to any country which the President determines grants sanctuary to any individual or group that has committed an act of international terrorism, or any country that the President determines otherwise supports international terrorism. The language includes a national security waiver for the President.

- Sec. 6034: Special Authorities. Part (o) of this section stipulates that of ESF made available for the West Bank and Gaza program, additional funds, not to exceed $2 million, may be used for administrative expenses of USAID to carry out programs in the West Bank and Gaza.

- Sec. 6035: Perennial bill language expressing a perennial Sense of the Congress opposing the Arab League Boycott of Israel.

- Sec. 6041: This provision bars aid to NGOs that fail "to provide upon timely request any document, file, or record necessary to the auditing requirements of the United States Agency for International Development." While this is a generic requirement, applying to all NGOs receiving US funds, the issue of audits of NGOs working with USAID has been especially focused on the West Bank and Gaza.

- Sec. 6042: Bill language banning assistance to governments that export lethal military equipment to countries supporting international terrorism.

- Sec. 6044: Perennial bill language stipulating that no funds appropriated in this Act may be obligated for assistance for the PLO unless the President has waived applicable legislation.

- Sec. 6047: Perennial bill language stipulating that no funds appropriated in this Act may be used to create any U.S. government office in Jerusalem to conduct business with the Palestinian Authority or any successor Palestinian governing entity.

- Sec. 6050: Limitation on Assistance to the Palestinian Authority. This is perennial bill language stipulating that no funds appropriated in this Act may be used to provide funds to the Palestinian Authority. The President is granted the authority to waive this restriction for reasons of national security.

- Sec. 6055: Perennial bill language (first inserted in the FY03 ForOps language) stipulating that no funds appropriated in this Act may be used to support a Palestinian state unless the Secretary of State certifies the state has met a list of requirements related to fighting terror, democratic reform, and commitment to peace. As in the previous year, the President is granted the authority to waive these requirements for reasons of national security.

- Sec. 6058: Perennial bill language stipulating that no funds appropriated in this Act may be used to assist the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (a similar prohibition is included in the Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations Bill).

- Sec. 6059: Conditions and restrictions on the West Bank and Gaza program. Conditions on the West Bank and Gaza program in this bill are essentially prior year requirements, plus the additional new requirements added by the FY05 supplemental. While the House version added, in addition, a new reporting requirement (requiring the Comptroller General conduct an audit and an investigation "of the treatment, handling, and uses" of all funds used for this program in FY06), the only thing added in the Senate version is a requirement that not later than 180 days after the bill is enacted, the Secretary of State submit an update to the far-ranging report required in HR 1268 (the FY05 Supplemental). For details of that report, please see the May 6, 2005 edition of the Round-Up.

- Sec. 6068: Reconciliation programs. This section provides that not less than $20 million shall be made available to support reconciliation programs and activities which bring together individuals of different ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds from areas of civil conflict and war. The report specifically mentions: the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies; Facing History and Ourselves; Seeds of Peace; Jerusalem International YMCA; and Interns for Peace.

- Sec. 6105: A brand-new provision that seeks, once again, to change U.S. policy regarding passports and reports of birth issued in Jerusalem. The provisions states that "For the purposes of registration of birth, certification of nationality, or issuance of a passport of a United States citizen born in the city of Jerusalem, the Secretary of State shall, upon request of the citizen, record the place of birth as Israel."

7. Other

- The report notes continued Committee support for the Yitzhak Rabin Center for Israel Studies in Tel Aviv and the Center for Human Dignity and Tolerance in Jerusalem. It also notes continued support for funding for the First Regional Cooperative Program for Health to be conducted by the Hebrew University's Kuvin Center and Al-Quds University.


In his otherwise brief opening statement (in which he gave very few details of the programs covered in the bill) Sen. McConnell highlighted the new conditions imposed on Egypt's economic aid. Subsequently, the issue of Egypt's aid dominated the markup and was the only serious point on which members expressed (polite) disagreement.

Sen. Stevens (R-AK) - former Chairman of the Appropriations Committee - reminded the Committee that during the markup last year similar language about political reforms had been added to the Egypt provision. He reminded the Committee that at that time he had raised questions about the wisdom of such a move. He said he wanted to point for the record that, in fact, things have changed since last year and there is serious progress on political reform in Egypt, and he once again questions the wisdom of adding this language, fearing that doing so now, with these changes taking place, could be "counterproductive" to efforts to carry on with reform and transform Egypt into a true democracy.

Sen. Brownback (R-KS) said he wanted to raise a "touchy" issue - the $1.3 billion in military aid for Egypt. He said he understood that this came out of the Camp David Accord but argued that this "was 25 years ago; I don't know how long we have to pay for that." He said one had to ask who Egypt was arming itself against, indicating that the only logical conclusion was that Egypt was preparing for war with Israel. "We need to ask ourselves if this is the best way to use these funds," he said, suggesting that they could be better used for AIDS or malaria programs. He concluded by saying that he planned to work with Chairman Cochran (R-MS) to see if something could be done about this when the bill goes to the floor.

Sen. McConnell responded to Brownback, saying "I generally agree with my colleague." He said Egypt has been a "great ally" but when it comes to political and economic reform it always seems like the answer is "manana." McConnell said that he wanted to see some real political and economic reform, and that based on his meeting with the Egyptian Prime Minister, he was more optimistic than at any time in the past about the prospects of such reform taking place. He said that in the meantime, he preferred to "cut them some slack"

Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) seconded this position, stating that in her view, Egypt is making important efforts to be helpful on the Israeli-Palestinian situation, in stopping the flow of weapons into Gaza, and in patrolling the Egypt-Gaza border. Moreover, she argued that there has to be a "dividend" for those Arab states that show the courage to make peace with Israel. She concluded saying, "I am very supportive of this appropriation."

Sen. Bennett (R-UT) commented that he agreed with the idea that the aid associated with the Camp David Accords should not be "eternal" and should not "flow forever." He pointed out, however, that from what he had seen and from his contacts with the Egyptian military, it is clear that Egypt's military is not in an offensive stance and not building up in order to threaten Israel. Rather, it is in deterrent stance. He said that in the past he had understood that this deterrence was aimed at Libya, and suggested that with the changes that are taking place in Libya it may be time for Egypt to reconsider this strategy. But he emphasized that Egypt's military is not a threat to Israel, noting that if he believed that Egypt was arming itself to fight Israel, he would be the first to oppose the military assistance.

Finally, Sen. Hutchison (R-TX) noted that Egypt's press is one of the most hostile in the region. She suggested that the U.S. would be hypocritical to demand that the Egyptian government muzzle the press, since we support free press, but suggested we could bring the issue of U.S. aid to the attention of Egyptian leaders and get some public acknowledgement, if not appreciation, for our assistance in the Egyptian press.

IV. SENATE ROAD MAP HEARING - LUGAR ON THE RECORD ================================

On June 30th the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held an extraordinary hearing examining the current status of the Road Map to Middle East Peace and featuring three of the key players: David Welch, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs; Lt. Gen. William Ward, deputy commander, U.S. Army-Europe, and U.S. coordinator for security, Defense Department; and James Wolfensohn, Quartet Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement.

Quotes from the hearing will be included in next week's edition of the Round-Up.

Opening statement of Chairman Lugar (R-IN)

"The Foreign Relations Committee meets today to examine the current state of the Middle East Road Map. Advancement of the peaceful two-state solution envisioned in the Road Map is urgently needed by the Israelis and Palestinians and is critical to U.S. success in the global war on terrorism. Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations use the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to enlist fresh recruits to conduct terrorism across the globe. We should continue to pursue without delay every opportunity to resolve this long-standing conflict.

"The Road Map has shown promise as a means for organizing talks and resolving issues between Israel and the Palestinians. The death of Yasser Arafat and the January election of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas generated hope that the Israelis and Palestinians could find common ground to embrace the vision of two states living side-by-side in peace and security.

"Both sides are now focused on the announced Israeli withdrawal from twenty-one Gaza settlements and four West Bank settlements. If this withdrawal can be accomplished smoothly, it could set a precedent for future Israeli-Palestinian cooperation. With only six weeks before the disengagement begins, however, the willingness of both sides to make compromises on details of the disengagement plan appears to have diminished. Palestinians fear that the Gaza disengagement will result in "Gaza first and Gaza last" - a truncated outcome that fails to address other settlement issues. Israelis fear that the terrorist factions -- Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and others -- are using the temporary cease fire as an opportunity to reorganize and rearm.

"The unproductive meeting that occurred on June 21st between Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas reflected the fragility of the process. It also demonstrated the need for unwavering engagement by the members of the Quartet -- the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia, as well as regional states. Both Israel and the Palestinians urgently need international support to fortify their ability and willingness to carry out their responsibilities under the Road Map.

"Israeli and Palestinian leaders must develop a coordinated plan for completing the Gaza disengagement. The Palestinians must take concrete actions to reform their security forces, establish new institutions, enforce the rule of law, and disarm those who commit or incite violence. The Israeli government must refrain from taking steps that prejudge peace negotiations and must plan beyond the withdrawal of 8,000 settlers from Gaza. The Israelis also must take steps to ease access and transit, allow trade and commerce, remove unauthorized outposts, and stop settlement expansion.

"The U.S. has pledged $350 million for assistance to the Palestinians to facilitate these efforts. This assistance, along with support from other nations, must be delivered through transparent and accountable mechanisms. In addition to the Quartet members, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other Arab states must devote their own political and economic resources to supporting the peace process.

"We should consider how international organizations, such as the United Nations or non-governmental groups, might help prevent violence by sending observers to monitor the Gaza disengagement. The United States should also explore whether NATO might oversee a conventional weapons disarmament and destruction program to prevent the proliferation of arms to terrorists. Such a program might be linked with jobs or other economic incentives to address the extremely high unemployment rates among Palestinians..."


(LEBANON) H. Res. 348: Introduced June 30th by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and 4 cosponsors, "Congratulating the people of Lebanon on successfully conducting democratic parliamentary elections in May and June 2005." Referred to the House International Relations Committee.

(Kuwait) H. Res. 343: Introduced June 27th by Rep. Crowley (D-NY) and 29 cosponsors, "Commending the State of Kuwait for granting women certain important political rights." Referred to the House International Relations Committee.

(ANTI-SEMITISM) S. Res. 184: Introduced June 29th by Sen. Rick Santorum(R-PA) and 5 cosponsors, "Expressing the Sense of the Senate regarding manifestations of anti- Semitism by United Nations member states and urging action against anti-Semitism by United Nations officials, United Nations member states, and the Government of the United States, and for other purposes." Referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. [Note: As with other UN reform- related legislation that has been introduced, this measure includes criticism of anti-Israel actions and statements at the UN. For example, one of the "resolved" clauses states: "the President should direct the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations to continue working toward further reduction of anti-Semitic language and anti-Israel resolutions."]

(CHINA) HR 3100: Introduced June 29th by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) and 13 cosponsors, "to authorize measures to deter arms transfers by foreign countries to the People's Republic of China." Referred to the House International Relations Committee. [Note: HR 3100 mirrors a provision contained in HR 1815, requiring reporting on and sanctions against people selling arms to China. While part of the bill is aimed exclusively at the European Union, other reporting requirements are more general and, as in the case of HR 1815, appear that they could impact Israel as well.]


Capps (D-CA) on aid to the Palestinians

"Mr. Chairman, the Foreign Operations appropriations bill is one of the best vehicles Congress has to address an issue of paramount importance, the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. This bill contains important Middle East provisions, but I believe we could have done better in our efforts to bring peace to these two long- suffering peoples.

"I support our $2.3 billion package for Israel. Maintaining Israel's military superiority in the region is a prerequisite for any peace agreement, and I am pleased that the bill fulfills the President's request for an additional $150 million for the Palestinians. The President believes, as do I, that it is imperative to deliver U.S. assistance quickly to improve the Palestinians' quality of life and empower their democratically elected leadership. But I had hoped, Mr. Chairman, that the Committee on Appropriations could have seized this historic opportunity and provided direct funding to the Palestinian Authority. Instead, this bill prohibits direct funding and places excessive conditions and limitations on the aid package.

"Of course, we must ensure transparency and accountability. But the requirements in this legislation continue to go far beyond what we ever demanded in the Arafat era. This strikes me as shortsighted. We should join with President Bush in strengthening President Abbas, especially in the face of a strong challenge from Hamas in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

"As Israel and the Palestinian Authority prepare to implement the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza, it is incumbent upon the United States to help both Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas confront the extremists on each side who seek to derail this process. I hope, Mr. Chairman, that when this bill comes to the conference with the Senate, we can redirect some of our assistance directly to the Palestinian Authority. Fragile as it may be, a flicker of hope and optimism has been kindled in the Middle East. It may truly be our last hope, and what a tragedy it would be for Israel, for the Palestinians, and for America if we did not do everything in our power to bring an end to this conflict."

Kolbe (R-AZ) on the US-Egypt Relationship

"...Our assistance to Egypt has been longstanding and Egypt remains an important ally in the Middle East. I would be among the first in this body to admit my concerns about Egypt's actions or sometimes their lack of actions when it comes to building programs of democracy in that country. And we have had a lot of discussion at both the subcommittee and full committee levels regarding ways to address these concerns. I accept the amendment offered by the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Obey) to fence $100 million of our economic assistance to Egypt and to put an earmark around those or to fence it so they could be used specifically for democracy and education programs. That is the first time that we have ever done that in this earmark for Egypt. I think that sends a very strong message to Egypt. So this amendment, however well-intentioned, is not going to be constructive.

"The relationship that we have with Egypt goes back 2 decades. We should not forget that prior to the Camp David agreement Egypt and Israel engaged in several wars and Egypt was an ally of the Soviet Union. That changed when President Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Begin negotiated a peace agreement in 1978 with the help of the United States. As part of that agreement and in an effort to bring stability and security to the region, the United States agreed to provide major economic and military assistance packages for both Israel and Egypt.

"Six years ago, the Committee on Appropriations under the leadership of my predecessor, former Congressman Sonny Callahan, initiated a policy to begin a phase-down of economic assistance for both Israel and Egypt. This resulted in a decision to phase out Israel's economic assistance by $120 million per year over 10 years, while increasing military assistance by $60 million. Egypt's economic assistance declines $40 million per year with no increase in military assistance.

"The agreement reached 6 years ago modifying the Camp David funding formula was agreed to by the parties involved, including the administration. An amendment that would help to impose a new funding regime, a new funding formula on this money, this carefully balanced money that goes to the partners in the Camp David accords, not as a result of any discussion or negotiations with them, but by unilateral action by this body, would undo the delicate balance of economic and military assistance and would be diplomatically disastrous for the United States. It would not be wise for Congress to disrupt any cooperation that exists between Israel and Egypt by cutting the military assistance to Egypt; and I can assure my colleagues, this is certainly not supported, though I do not speak for them, I feel quite certain in saying this is not supported by the Government of Israel."

For more information, contact APN Government Relations Director Lara Friedman at 202/728-1893, or at