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HR 4681 - Who voted against it & Statements from the House floor and Extension of Remarks

See the record and empassioned statements, including insertion of APN's talking points


(those in BOLD spoke in opposition on the House floor; their statements are linked to their name and reprinted following the list)

Abercrombie (D-HI)
Becerra (D-CA)
Blumenauer (D-OR)
Capps (D-CA)
Capuano (D-MA)
Conyers (D-MI)
DeFazio (D-OR)
Dingell (D-MI)
Doggett (D-TX)
Eshoo (D-CA)
Farr (D-CA)
Gilchrest (R-MD)
Grijalva (D-AZ)
Hinchey (D-NY)
Jones (R-NC)
Kaptur (D-OH)
Kilpatrick (D-MI)
Kolbe (R-AZ)
Kucinich (D-OH)
LaHood (R-IL)
Lee (D-CA)
Marshall (D-GA)
McCollum (D-MN)
McDermott (D-WA)
McGovern (D-MA)
McKinney (D-GA)
Miller (D-CA)
Moore (D-WI)
Moran (D-VA)
Obey (D-WI)
Paul (R-TX)
Price (D-NC)
Rahall (D-WV) (insert into record)
Stark (D-CA)
Thornberry (R-TX)
Velazquez (D-NY)
Watt (D-NC)


Carson (D-IN)
Clay (D-MO)
Davis (D-IL)
Gutierrez (D-IL)
Jackson (D-IL)
Johnson, EB (D-TX)
Payne (D-NJ)
Rush (D-IL)
Watson (D-CA)


Udall (D-NM)

Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Everybody on this floor wants to send the same loud and clear message: that Congress is united in its opposition to terror and we are all deeply concerned about the future and security of our close friend and ally, Israel.

This debate is not about our shared revulsion at those who would murder innocent citizens or sow terror for political purposes.

It is not about current law, which prohibits any assistance to Hamas or a Hamas-controlled government, which Congress unanimously reaffirmed earlier this year. For many people, we will find tonight that this is a very personal issue. For anyone who has visited Israel, you understand.

When I first visited Jerusalem, I couldn't help but be struck by how close the holy sites of the three great religions are, less than the distance of a Tiger Woods 5-iron shot. I will always cherish the opportunity in a more optimistic time, to visit a security checkpoint outside Ramallah, jointly manned by Israelis and Palestinians. The possibility of that moment, its fragility and the ramifications of failure, have been brought home to me repeatedly in recent years.

I was and am impressed by the diversity of opinions in Israel, by its vibrant tradition of democracy and heated debate. But I am also struck by how we are seeing elements of that vibrant debate within the American pro-Israeli community over the bill that is before us this evening.

As someone committed to Israel's security and to the vision of the two states living side by side in peace, I reluctantly oppose the legislation this evening, despite my deep respect for my colleagues who are bringing it forward on both sides of the aisle.

The bill before us is one that the administration does not need nor want. It sets permanent and inflexible limits on the United States, whether or not Hamas is in power. It could potentially limit the United States' ability to help our friend Israel if Israel decides in the future that working with a non- Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority is in their best interests.

Remember in 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin asked the United States to support a flawed Palestinian Authority because he felt it was important for Israel's security. Had the stringent conditions in this bill been in place, we would have had to have said no.

In 2003, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon asked the United States to support the Palestinian Prime Minister, Mahmoud Abbas. Had the stringent conditions in this bill been in place, we would have had to say no.

Should a future Israeli leader come and ask us to support the Palestinian Authority, after Hamas is forced from power, we shouldn't allow the conditions in this bill to force us to say no.

Unfortunately, this bill defines the Palestinian Authority to include the Palestinian legislative counsel, as long as members of Hamas are in the Palestinian Parliament. We would have to say no to Israel's request.

As has been pointed out with Libya, the debate over Libya, sometimes we allow diplomatic relations with imperfect regimes because progress can best be made through engagement instead of isolation. This bill goes far beyond the ramifications of January's election and Hamas' rise to power.

It would restrict relations with and support for Palestinian groups and institutions that have nothing to do with terror or rejectionism. It places sanctions on the Palestinian leaders and parts of Palestinian civil society who support peace with Israel, oppose terrorism and who, if the two-state vision comes to pass, will form the backbone of a democratic society.

There is, in this legislation, no recognition that Palestinian society is deeply divided, and that it makes no sense to put sanctions on President Abbas, reformers, even activists for democracy, peace and coexistence. The bill would prohibit the assistance we give to schools that teach peace, to democratic and peaceful political organizations, to groups promoting cooperation with Israel on shared environmental challenges.

It would even punish the democratic opposition by prohibiting visas for moderate Palestinian legislators or government officials who oppose Hamas. It would prevent the PLO, of which Hamas isn't a member, and which was not impacted by the election of Hamas, from having representatives in Washington or at the United Nations. I am afraid that this legislation may well backfire by actually strengthening the hands of extremists.

Remember, this past winter, the House, in our wisdom, voted to demand that the Palestinians prevent Hamas from running in the legislative elections, telling the Palestinian people to reject them. I don't think it was any accident that Hamas election banners had: ``Israel and America say `no' to Hamas. What do you say?''

I can't help think that any objective appraisal would suggest that the United States Congress, telling them what they could do, may well have provided that extra boost for Hamas' prospects at the election.

This bill provides no diplomatic horizon, no sunset. It is in perpetuity. It does little to prioritize on the basis of our strategic interest and provides no prospect for Palestinian reform coming through the process of negotiations. In so doing, it weakens the hands of those who advocate for peace negotiations and supports those extremists who believe in violence.

Democracy is a complex process in the Middle East and all too rare in the Middle East. The election of Hamas shows that for the kinds of democracies we want to see, elections aren't enough. We need to promote the kinds of democratic institutions, free civil society, conducive to sustainable, liberal democracy in Palestinian territories.

The President needs to be free to do just that, with congressional oversight, not congressional prohibitions and micromanagement. I understand the sincere concern that many people who support this legislation have, but it is too onerous and burdensome on an administration that needs to practice diplomacy.

Democracy is a continuing process that helps transform those who practice it. I agree with the rabbi from my district who wrote that, ``change is everything in politics, no matter how bleak the situation currently is,'' in expressing his opposition to this legislation. We cannot support Hamas or other terrorist groups, but neither should we close the door on change.

Most of the Members of this body consider themselves to be strong friends and supporters of Israel. So do I. That is why I will urge a ``no'' vote on this resolution.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Additional comments from Blumenauer made later:

Mr. BLUMENAUER. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, as I prepare to conclude my presentation and yield back my time this evening, I truly have enjoyed the give and take that we have had this evening under the leadership of our subcommittee chair, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, the work that has been done by staff members on both sides of the aisle, the passion, the emotion, the concern, and the professionalism that we have witnessed.

I personally have appreciated it. I think it is a healthy give-and-take that we have had. I think it is an important debate. It is not the last word that we are going to enjoy. I would simply make a couple of points in closing. I continue to be concerned that we not talk past one another. There is going to be, under existing United States law, no aid for Hamas. It is illegal to give assistance to a terrorist organization. Hamas certainly is.

And they are not going to be entitled to aid regardless of what happens with this bill. I continue to be concerned that the language of the bill is not, as some of my friends who have spoken on the other side of the aisle refer to, talking about how humanitarian aid can go through. That is not what the bill says. It is health that is the automatic pass-through.

Education, as has been referenced, is not a part of the automatic exemption. This lack of flexibility is one of the reasons why this bill is opposed by Americans for Peace Now, the Israel Policy Forum, Brit Tzedek, Shalom, Churches for Middle East Peace, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The bill sets permanent and inflexible limits on the United States's ability to be involved with Israel and Palestine, whether or not Hamas is in power. And that is a mistake. It goes far beyond dealing with the ramifications of January's elections, and Hamas's rise to power, essentially Palestinian moderates and institutions that have nothing to do with Hamas.

Most independent observers feel that that is counterproductive and it may well end up backfiring and actually providing further strength to the extremists. I listened to the delightful exchange between Mr. Lantos and Mr. Frank on the floor earlier. I always marvel watching two parliamentary masters go back and forth. I listened to Mr. Frank's argument tying it back to earmarking. And it was a thoughtful and amazing argument.

But one of the concerns I have, given the nature of Hamas, and listening very carefully to Mr. Frank's words, is they are going to claim credit any way they can for anything that happens, much as we see political processes generally do that.

It is important that in our desire to stop Hamas from either assistance or a foothold for claiming credit, that we are very surgical about what we do for the Palestinian people, and the ability to move forward with peace.

Madam Speaker, I think it is important for us to review the administration's concerns. They have stated that they feel it is unnecessary, as the executive branch already has ample authority to impose all its restrictions. It does constrain the executive's ability in the flexibility to use sanctions as appropriate to address rapidly changing circumstances, which we all sincerely hope happen for the positive in this troubled area of the world.

Their concerns about the mandatory nature of the bill's sanctions, the relative absence that relates to activities absent an unachievable certification, a lack of a general waiver authority on its key ban on assistance, and that these limitations should be time limited.

The administration has also raised the concern that the exemption for ``basic human health needs'' is too narrow and should be broadened to ``basic human needs''. Indeed both sides on the floor this evening often used those two terms interchangeably, but they are very different under the bill.

But I do think we have reached the point where both my leg and my store of information here has been exhausted. I wanted to make one last point, because there has been reference this evening to the joy of serving with Mr. Lantos.

I never cease to marvel, when we are in the midst of this, that he adds a dimension to the debate that I think is very important. I never cease to learn something in the course of what happens in the committee or here on the floor. Reference has been made to him as the only Holocaust survivor who has walked these halls.

And it adds a dimension, not just to this debate, but one that carries through in activities in Asia, in Africa, in the bigger picture across the world.

But there is one other accolade because Mr. Lantos is a professor, and I appreciate the scholarly approach he brings that tempers his experience and his emotion that makes this a learning experience. And I truly believe that as a result of his input this evening that this has been a valuable learning experience for me, and I think it has enriched the record. Whatever happens with this legislation as it goes through the course of the legislature, as I do not doubt that it will pass tomorrow, that we will all be a little more knowledgeable as a result of this, and I think, in the long run, we will be able to do our jobs better, and for that, I thank him.

Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

Additional comments from Blumenauer made later:

Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, before I recognize the gentleman from Ohio, I would yield myself 5 minutes, because I have been sitting here reflecting on my good friend from California's comments about people who suddenly are the best friend of the administration who have been critical of them.

Well, I have only been here 10 years, not as long as my distinguished friend, but one of the things I have tried to do with Republican and Democratic administrations alike, when it comes to foreign policy, is to attempt to be supportive when I agree but to be clear that when I disagree, when I think they are wrong, to stand up.

I take a back seat to no one in terms of my opposition to this administration's reckless conduct in Iraq. I have been consistent on that from the beginning. One of the concerns I had about this administration was their disdain for nation-building. You will recall the rhetoric of then Governor Bush.

But part of our obligation as Members of this chamber is to be supportive when we can. Because in the conduct of foreign policy, it would be nice if it did stop at the water's edge. I appreciate that the administration has changed its position on nation-building and has actually requested more assistance than it looks like this Congress is going to give them for foreign aid.

When they were willing to work with us in water and sanitation, I embraced that. I think we should reinforce positive things that we can agree on. That is what the American public wants. I do not think we should be reflexive and negative.

The administration has raised a legitimate concern about flexibility, about being able to implement it, and these are consistent with Republican and Democratic administrations in the past in terms of not wanting sanctions to go on forever and wanting to have the flexibility to respond, not after 25 days of consultation according to very, narrow little channels, but to be able to act responsibly to practice diplomacy.

The history of this House of Representatives is not very illustrious when it comes to many of these questions. Congress has sort of flitted around and has been subjected to the pressures of the moment and has not always been a constructive ally.

As we know, this House passed a draft by only one vote immediately before World War II. Lots of simple, commonsense straight-ahead solutions that we have been involved with have not always been the best and most carefully crafted.

I come forward not being a fan of this administration in many areas, in many areas, but in this one, as I listen to them, as I look at the requested flexibility, as I look at independent experts, as I hear from religious leaders back home and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, I see a wide range of people that support the concerns that the administration share with us.

Ms. McCOLLUM of Minnesota. Mr. Speaker, tonight we should be working to ensure security and peace for Israel and for more hope, opportunity and peace for the Palestinian people.

Among our colleagues in the U.S. House, there is unanimous intolerance and condemnation for the current Hamas-led government of the Palestinian Authority. The refusal of the political leadership of Hamas to recognize the State of Israel, renounce violence and terrorism and agree to previous agreements and obligations of the Palestinian Authority is unacceptable, and, therefore, they must continue to be isolated by the international community.

Congress should be here tonight unanimously passing a bill that supports Secretary of State Rice as she leads the international community to keep firm pressure on Hamas until they agree to internationally recognized and civilized standards of conduct. At the same time, Congress should be working to support the Bush administration and the international community to avoid a serious humanitarian crisis among the Palestinian people.

On May 9, 2006, Secretary Rice said as she announced $10 million of medical assistance to the Palestinian people, ``We will continue to work and look for ways to assist the Palestinian people and will encourage other countries to join us in this effort.'' She goes on to say, ``We will not, however, provide support to a Hamas-led government that refuses to accept the calls of the Quartet and the broader international community to renounce terror and to become a partner for peace.''

I strongly support her efforts, and it is unfortunate that the bill tonight could not have been drafted to come to the floor that would be supported by the State Department. The State Department's comment regarding H.R. 4681 is, ``this bill is unnecessary.''

Instead of advancing the U.S. interests, H.R. 4681 does not recognize the three criteria set forth by President Bush, demanded by President Bush and the international community, for Hamas to commence any form of engagement and to work with the U.S. and the international community.

H.R. 4681 sets an elevated threshold which makes U.S. leadership for peace in the Middle East nearly impossible, even if Hamas does agree to recognize Israel, does renounce terrorism and does agree to abide by all previous agreements.

The outcome of this bill, if it were to become law, would be to isolate Palestinian leaders who have been committed to advancing the peace process, isolate leaders who have denounced terrorism and isolate leaders who are working with Israel for peace and a permanent two-state solution. How does this advance the U.S. goals in the region? It does not.

This bill's real result will be to isolate the U.S. among the members of the international community that are working for peaceful solutions between Israel and the Palestinians.

One of our partners in isolating Hamas and delivering humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people is the United Nations. A section in this bill calls for the withholding of a portion of the U.S. contribution to the United Nations, as if this valuable partner were an enemy. For this bill to target the United Nations, a member of the quartet, in such a fashion is a clear signal that this bill's intent is to undermine the Bush administration's multilateral leadership.

This bill places extreme constraints on the delivery of humanitarian assistance by non-governmental organizations to the Palestinian people. This bill's unnecessary obstacles have the potential for very negative human consequences and would exacerbate a human crisis.

Palestinian families and children must not be targeted. They must not be deprived of their basic human needs by this Congress. Instead, this House should assure that Palestinian families and children will be treated in a fashion that reflects our values and the belief that their lives are valuable.

NGOs with significant experience in delivering humanitarian assistance have expressed serious concerns with the lack of flexibility in this bill. On April 6, 2006, a letter from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to Chairman Hyde expressing concerns regarding this bill states, ``The legislation provides for the urgent needs of the Palestinian people. A further deterioration of the humanitarian and economic situation of the Palestinian people compromises human dignity and serves the long-term interests of neither the Palestinians nor of Israelis who long for peace.''

In its present form, this bill will not allow NGOs to properly carry out the very assistance determined to be necessary by Secretary Rice, ensuring suffering and misery to the Palestinian people.

Later this week in this Chamber, we will be honored by the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. In an interview last week, Prime Minister Olmert said the Palestinians ``are the victims of their own extremist, fundamentalist, religious, inflexible and unyielding leadership, and we will do everything in our power to help these innocent people.''

I strongly associate myself with the honest and courageous comments of the prime minister and his desire for security and peace. I oppose this bill because it is a missed opportunity to keep pressure on Hamas.

Mr. PRICE of North Carolina. Mr. Speaker, almost exactly a year ago, I joined a bipartisan group of Members in visiting the Hope Flowers School in the Palestinian village of al Khader, just outside of Bethlehem on the West Bank.

Hope Flowers teaches its students a curriculum promoting tolerance, nonviolence, democracy and peaceful coexistence. Our bipartisanship delegation witnessed the signing of a USAID agreement to renovate several classrooms and other key facilities at the school.

Projects like this are supported by the United States throughout the Palestinian territories. Other projects are paying for modern school books to ensure that fundamentalist propaganda has no place in Palestinian schools; potable water projects to prevent the spread of disease, economic development to improve job prospects for Palestinian youth, and construction of hospitals, schools, sewers, power grids and business centers.

These types of projects are critical to our interests, to Israel, and to the prospects for peace. They help prevent humanitarian crises and diminish popular discontent, and they also inculcate values like those taught at Hope Flowers.

They train peacemakers; they improve America's standing in the Middle East. Why would we want to eliminate programs like these? Are they not needed now more than ever? And yet that is exactly what H.R. 4681 would do. It would cut off U.S. assistance to the West Bank and Gaza.

Mr. Speaker, I stress, despite the way some proponents are trying to frame this debate tonight, the issue is not aid to Hamas or to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority. Nobody on this floor tonight has any tolerance for Hamas.

The issue is rather the bill's ban on aid to all nongovernmental groups, private groups, and organizations, many of whom are diametrically opposed to Hamas's philosophy. Let me clarify some further misconceptions about this legislation. I am not speculating here, Mr. Speaker; I am referring to page 12 of the bill. I invite colleagues to read it.

Mr. Speaker, some have suggested the bill contains sufficient exceptions to allow humanitarian assistance to pass through. Not so. The bill makes an exception for health-related humanitarian aid, such as food, water and medicine. But it makes no provision for other forms of humanitarian assistance, such as aid for the homeless or displaced families and orphans.

Mr. Speaker, some have pointed to Presidential waiver authority in the bill and suggested that it would allow critical assistance to reach Palestinians. Not so. Unfortunately, all aid beyond health-related humanitarian assistance would be prohibited unless the President, on a case-by-case basis, were to certify that assistance is required by U.S. national security.

And then he would have to consult with Congress 25 days in advance and submit a written memorandum explaining why such assistance benefits U.S. security. How many projects would survive such a gauntlet? Think about the kinds of aid programs that would be cut off, projects that focus on building democratic institutions and civil society, projects that promote economic development to stabilize the territories, projects that ensure that school curricula provide students with a progressive education rather than fundamentalist propaganda, curricula that teach tolerance and conflict resolution skills. Surely programs like this are in our interest.

Mr. Speaker, they are exactly what we need to reduce violence, to build the capacity of Palestinian civil society, and make progress toward a peaceful resolution; and yet they are exactly the programs that would be eliminated in this bill.

Mr. Speaker, there are other problems with the bill as well. It would significantly handicap any effort to engage the moderate elements in the Palestinian Authority, such as Palestinian Authority President Abbas, by opposing restrictions on visas, travel, and official Palestinian Authority representation in the U.S.

Mr. Speaker, because of these fundamental flaws in the legislation, it is opposed by several leading voices for Israel and Middle East peace, including the Israel Policy Forum, Brit Tzedek, Americans for Peace Now, Churches for Middle East Peace, a broad Protestant coalition, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Bush administration also opposes this bill. In a paper delivered to the House International Relations Committee, the State Department calls the bill unnecessary and says it unduly constrains the Executive's flexibility.

Mr. Speaker, there is no denying that Hamas's election victory was a significant step backward in the quest for a peaceful resolution to this conflict. There is no disagreement here tonight that we should send Hamas a strong message that the world will not tolerate its violent and irresponsible behavior.

But this bill goes far beyond sending that message. Instead, it sends the message that the U.S. wants to punish the Palestinian people for Hamas's action, a message that serves no good purpose.

We can unanimously support, and that is what we should be doing tonight, my colleagues, we can unanimously support legislation blocking assistance to Hamas, and to a Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority.

But if we adopt legislation that punishes the Palestinian people, instead of isolating the terrorists, we lose the moral high ground. Let us reclaim the moral high ground, signal our resolute opposition to terrorism and also our support for those Palestinian individuals and groups who are working for a peaceful and democratic future.

Mr. Speaker, we should defeat this bill and ask the IR Committee to bring back a bill truly reflective of American interests and values.

Mr. DINGELL. Mr. Speaker, this legislation should be considered under an open rule with lengthy debate and full opportunity to discuss it, not at 8 o'clock at night with the corporal's guard here on the floor.

I yield to no man in my support for Israel. I have voted for hundreds of billions of dollars for it over the years I have served here. And I yield to no man my position to terror and terrorism and terrorists. But that is not what is at issue here tonight.

The administration says this bill is not necessary. It points out that this bill constrains the administration in delivering meaningful diplomatic effort to resolve the problems of the Middle East. The Middle East's problems and the problems of the Palestinians and the Israelis will not be resolved by starving the Palestinians or by creating additional hardship. They are desperate people, incarcerated in walls, afflicted with high unemployment, suffering from health and other problems. The non-governmental organizations point out that this will strip them in substantial part of contributing to this. It will in large part almost totally strip the United States from the ability to address the needs of the Palestinian people and to address the humanitarian concerns which we have about them.

Peace in the Middle East is not going to be achieved at gunpoint. It is going to be achieved by negotiations, by people working together; and that process may be ugly, dirty and slow, but it is the only process that will work. To create additional hardship and suffering for the Palestinians is simply going to guarantee more desperate, angry men who are fully determined that they will go forth to kill Israelis or Americans or anybody else. Our purpose here tonight should be to look to the well-being of the United States, craft a policy which is good for this country. And that policy can only be one which is good for Israel and for the Palestinian people, one which is fair to all, one which puts the United States as a friend and an honest broker of peace to both parties where we can be so accepted.

To take some other course is simply to assure continuing hardship and a continuing poisonous, hateful relationship amongst the parties in the area. When this Congress realizes that and when we, this Congress and the others here, will recognize that that is the way peace is achieved, then there will be a real prospect for peace. We can expect that the Palestinians will receive the justice that they seek. We can expect that the Israelis will achieve the security that they need and they want and they deserve and that we want them to have.

This legislation will do none of that. This legislation promises further angry men, more bitterness, more hate, more ill-will; and it assures that the thing which we must use to bring this miserable situation to an end, honest, honorable, face-to-face negotiation, will either not occur or will be moved many years into the future.

Think about it. The needs of Israel are not served by this resolution. The needs of the United States are not served by this resolution. The needs of the Palestinian people are not served by this resolution.

Let us vote it down and get something which makes sense and which serves the interests of all concerned.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the resolution on the floor. I oppose Hamas. I oppose what they stand for. I oppose their use of violence, their targeting of civilians; their vision for the Palestinian people; their rejection of Israel; and most of all I deplore their rejection of peaceful reconciliation.

For all these reasons, and many more, I do not think that Hamas is a true partner for peace. But while Hamas may not be, the Palestinian people are. The vast majority of Palestinians want peace. The vast majority value peace, follow the law, oppose violence--and legislation like this only hurts the vast majority we need for peace.

I understand the House's desire to ostracize Hamas. But I do not understand how we keep making the same mistakes by punishing the very people we all say we want to help. The restrictions on aid in this bill will not hurt Hamas, they will receive plenty of money from Iran, but this will hurt the Palestinian people.

Under this bill assistance will be limited only to ``basic health'', a restriction we reject for almost every other nation. This bill would stop economic development assistance, sanitation assistance, environmental assistance--and most ironically, at a time when we are criticizing their choice of government--democracy assistance.

Make no mistake about it; their vote was to get back at our own repeatedly misguided attempts to punish rather than cajole, to batter rather than build trust, and to impoverish rather than to uplift. When we provided Mahmoud Abbas no deliverables and only hardships, it made Hamas's promises hard to ignore.

Our actions emboldened the Hamas, and we are about to do it again. My friends, passage of this legislation will create yet another failed state and humanitarian catastrophe in the Middle East. However, this one, unlike Iraq, will be surrounded by our staunchest ally in that region. If we destabilize Palestine we will destabilize Israel. If we help create chaos we weaken the chance for finding peace between Israel and her neighbors--and even threaten the very viability of the Jewish state.

If this legislation is signed into law we will lose once and for all the Palestinian people. Our rejection of them will create one clear victor--the government of Iran. If we pass this legislation, Iran will win by default. Instead of textbooks for Palestinian children being written by USAID they will be written by the Iranian Revolutionary Council. Schools will be built with Iranian oil money and our ability to influence peace will be weaker as a result.

What I find so strange is that this legislation is being championed by people who believe themselves to be the staunchest supporters of Israel. Mr. Speaker, in order to strengthen Israel peace needs to prevail in the region. In order to guarantee Israel's survival the Palestinians need to find prosperity and view the United States as a friend. This bill will only stymie those efforts. I ask my colleagues to vote no.

Mrs. CAPPS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Oregon for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by paying special tribute to Chairman Hyde. This may be his last year of service in this House, but his legacy of trying to bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians will live on for many years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I must rise in opposition to this bill.

Let there be no mistake, Hamas is a ruthless terrorist organization. Unless Hamas recognizes Israel's right to exist and renounces terror, the Palestinian Authority should receive no direct U.S. assistance. Direct aid to the Hamas-controlled PA has been cut off. The basic goal of this bill has already been accomplished.

But H.R. 4681 goes well beyond this objective. It is a punitive measure aimed at punishing the Palestinian people. It will undermine U.S. national interests. It will do nothing to strengthen Israel security.

I have two main objections with this bill. First, it places nearly insurmountable efforts to future U.S. efforts to engage Palestinians and Israel in peacemaking. It lacks the normal Presidential national security waiver; and unbelievably, it would limit United States diplomatic contact with moderate, non-Hamas Palestinian officials. Why is this? These are the very leaders who recognize Israel and who support peace, and it makes absolutely no sense for us to undercut them at this critical time.

Second, except for very limited circumstances, this bill will cut off humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people at the very moment when a horrendous humanitarian disaster is looming.

The United States, our Quartet partners, and Israel are all hard at work at present to avoid catastrophe and to deliver assistance around Hamas to credible and transparent NGOs. H.R. 4681 goes in the opposite direction.

I simply cannot see how denying chemotherapy treatment for Palestinian children increases Israel's security or advances U.S. national interests.

Mr. Speaker, there is significant opposition to this bill in the pro-Israel community, and I highlight again, respected national groups like Americans for Peace Now, Israel Policy Forum, and Brit Tzedek strongly oppose this legislation. They tell us voting ``no'' on this bill is a pro-Israel vote.

Groups like Churches for Middle East Peace and the Conference of Catholic Bishops, with decades of experience providing humanitarian relief, they oppose it as well.

The State Department also opposes the bill, calling it unnecessary and criticizing its provisions as objectionable.

On Wednesday, we will welcome Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to this Chamber. Yesterday, this is what he told his Cabinet: ``We have no intention of helping the Palestinian government, but I say we will render such assistance as may be necessary for humanitarian needs.'' He also dispatched his top two ministers for a substantive meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

If this policy of shutting the door on Hamas but opening it to Palestinian moderates and the Palestinian people themselves is good enough for the Prime Minister of Israel, it should be good enough for the U.S. House of Representatives.

So I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on H.R. 4681.

Mr. LaHOOD. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for the time. I think this is not a carefully crafted bill. I think this is, as much as I respect the chairman and the ranking member, and I do respect the chairman, I have known the chairman for the 20 years I have been in politics, and I respect the ranking member, but I think the approach that is offered in this bill is what I would characterize as a meat-axe approach.

This does not help common ordinary citizens. What it does is it hurts common ordinary citizens. There is no other way around it. You can protest as much as you want about Mrs. Capps and what she said, but she is right. Common ordinary citizens, common ordinary Palestinians are going to be hurt by this, because the funding is going to be cut off for educational services, for health services, for the services that these people need very badly.

And what we have now, it looks to me like at least a couple hundred Secretaries of State, as reflected in this bill. Do you all know more than the Secretary of State? Do you know more than the President? Do you think your policy is better than the administration's policy? Yes, you do. Well, I don't happen to agree with that. I really don't.

And I ask Members, I may be the only Republican to vote against this. I am obviously going to be the only Republican to speak against it, but I ask Members who representat large Arab populations in their districts to think about this. This hurts the Palestinian people. There is no other way to put it. And I do not know why you are doing this. In the name of protecting Israel? I just think this is a bad idea, and I don't understand why it is being done.

I would say this: The new prime minister of Israel is in this country. In a day or two, he will be walking down this middle aisle. And if he were able to vote and have a card that would allow him to vote as he walks down, he would vote against this bill. He has recognized that it is a bad bill. And if he had the opportunity to put his voting card as he walks down, he would vote against it, as would a large part of this administration. Why? Because it hurts common ordinary people. That is why.

If you are going after Hamas, go after them, but don't restrict the funding that helps people. The reason that Hamas won the election is the Palestinians didn't have the right people on the ballot and didn't work the ballot in order to do it. And Hamas has gone out into those communities and provided services, and they have endeared themselves to the Palestinian people while the leadership of Palestine has been pocketing a lot of money. That's the reason they won the elections. They ran better elections. But why fault the people for that? And why take this kind of funding away from common ordinary citizens?

Now, for all of you that come out on this floor all the time and talk about what we should be doing and what we are cutting and what we are not cutting, this is an opportunity to say to common ordinary citizens in Palestine: We care about you. We care about your health care. We care about education. We care about your opportunity for jobs and to really be able to do the things you want to do.

But if you vote for this, we say: The heck with you. We care more about sending a message to Hamas leadership than we do about the people of Palestine. I think that is what the message is. This will not hurt the leadership of Hamas. It will not. Because they are going to have the money and the resources that they need, and they will say what they want, but it will hurt common ordinary people.

Vote ``no'' on this resolution.

Mr. KUCINICH. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time, and I include for the RECORD a statement by Americans for Peace Now relative to H.R. 4681 and also a statement by Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace.

(Mr. Kucinich's comments continue following these statements)

[From Americans for Peace Now]

H.R. 4681: Grandstanding About Palestinians, at the Expense of U.S. and Israeli Interests.

Tomorrow the House is expected to suspend the rules and take up H.R. 4681, the ``Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006.'' This legislation would impose sweeping sanctions against the Palestinians in response to the victory of Hamas In the January Palestinian legislative elections.

Hamas' victory in the elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) was regrettable. It is imperative that the international community (including the U.S.) make a concerted and coordinated effort to pressure Hamas. However, H.R. 4681 represents a case of Congress using a blunt instrument where a surgical tool is needed. In doing so, the bill risks undercutting such efforts, harming U.S. national security, and undermining those Palestinian officials and activists who recognize Israel, reject terror, and support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This legislation is fundamentally flawed and deserves to be rejected by the House. APN urges Members--including those who have cosponsored and/or plan to vote for the measure--to speak out on the House floor and submit statements for the record drawing attention to the many serious problems with H.R. 4681.

APN talking points on H.R. 4681:

H.R. 4681 unnecessarily risks U.S. national security. The U.S. can maintain a tough line against Hamas without compromising our own national security or unreasonably tying the President's hand in the conduct of foreign policy. Rejecting terrorism is not incompatible with ensuring that U.S. national security interests remain the primary concern of U.S. foreign policy.

H.R. 4681, however, irresponsibly and unnecessarily subjugates U.S. national security interests to political grandstanding. It does so by eliminating the President's authority to waive sanctions in the interests of U.S. national security--a waiver that is a standard component of virtually all U.S. sanctions legislation. This waiver, which has only rarely been invoked, represents minimal flexibility for the President to waive sanctions on assistance when U.S. national security interests are at stake. It is unfathomable that Congress would decide that, in the wake of the Hamas election, the President no longer needs or can be trusted with such authority. Indeed, it is not difficult to imagine scenarios under which U.S. national security might clearly call for direct, quick assistance--for instance, following new Palestinian elections or in the wake of a natural disaster. Moreover, the Bush Administration has already put in place tough new restrictions on aid to the Palestinians, clearly indicating the uncompromising stance this Administration is taking in response to the Hamas victory. APN urges Congress to demand that a real national security waiver be added to this bill, enabling the President to waive the various sanctions if he deems it to be in the national security interests of the U.S. to do so.

H.R. 4681 risks undermining Palestinian moderates and strengthening extremists. In response to the Hamas victory, we should seek to strengthen those Palestinians who reject violence, recognize Israel, and support a two-state solution. In doing so, we put pressure on Hamas to reform, and we strengthen those Palestinians who, we hope, will replace Hamas if it fails to reform.

H.R. 4681, however, undermines these positions and the Palestinians who hold them, by providing no political horizon for an alternative leadership to strive to reach. Under this bill, the PA--even if replaced by more welcome leadership--will likely be unable to meet the reform requirements in the short- or medium-term, especially outside the context of progress towards a peace agreement. Thus, even if new elections were held and won by a different party, all sanctions would remain in place until the other reform requirements had been met. APN urges Congress to demand that a ``sunset clause'' be added to H.R. 4681, providing a political horizon for moderate, reasonable Palestinian political leaders and activists, and sending a signal of real support and hope to the Palestinian people. [A sunset clause is like an ``expiration date'' for legislation, stipulating a date or event after which Congress will either let the legislation lapse, renew the legislation, or amend it in some way.]

H.R. 4681 loses sight of the real priorities. H.R. 4681 seeks to precondition U.S. relations with the PA--and impose sweeping sanctions--based on the demand that the PA meet a list of requirements that include wide-ranging reforms unrelated to the election of Hamas. Important as these reforms may be, neither the U.S. nor Israel has ever considered them a prerequisite for engaging with the PA (or, for that matter, the PLO, Jordan, or Egypt, in the context of their agreements with Israel). Adding these reforms as preconditions for engagement loses sight of real priorities--like saving lives--and undermines the incentive for the most critical demands to be taken seriously. For example, under this bill, if Hamas renounced terror, changed its charter, acted decisively against other terrorist organizations, disarmed its own militants, and recognized Israel, but had not yet made substantial progress toward replacing all textbooks with ``materials to promote tolerance, peace, and coexistence with Israel,'' all sanctions would remain in place. APN urges Congress to reject preconditioning U.S. relations with the Palestinians on requirements that are unrelated to the specific issues raised by the Hamas election; rather, Congress should set focused, meaningful performance benchmarks.

H.R. 4681 loses sight of U.S. strategic interests. A serious response to the Palestinian elections should clearly target Hamas and its control of the Palestinian Authority. Effective sanctions should clearly differentiate such targets from, for example, elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) who are not affiliated with Hamas or any other terrorist organization--political leaders and activists who, running on platforms that included rejection of terror, recognition of Israel, and support for a two-state solution, beat Hamas candidates in the January election.

However, H.R. 4681 not only fails to distinguish between Hamas and the PA, and the non-Hamas members of the PLC, it explicitly defines the PA as including the entire PLC--extending sanctions to longtime supporters of peace with Israel (like PLC member Salam Fayyad). Moreover, the bill includes extraneous sanctions that, while ostensibly aimed at Hamas, will in fact have zero impact on Hamas, but only serve to punish Palestinians who recognize Israel and reject terror, and make it difficult or impossible for the U.S. to talk to them. These include restrictions on visas (Hamas members are already barred by law from obtaining visas), limits on freedom of movement for officials of the PLO in the U.S. and sanctions on PLO representation in the United States (Hamas is not a member of the PLO a group that recognizes and has signed agreements with Israel), and an entirely superfluous attack on the United Nations that does not even make the pretense of having anything to do with Hamas. In the interests of U.S. national security, including our concern for Israeli security, it is vital to open the door for dialogue and engagement with alternative leaders and representatives of the Palestinians. APN urges Congress to reject provisions of this bill that will have no real impact on Hamas--except, perversely, to strengthen them while undermining moderate Palestinian political leaders and activists, and making it more difficult for the U.S. to engage with alternatives to a Hamas-led government, like President Mahmoud Abbas or the PLO.

APN urges Congress to reject this bill's misguided effort to attack the UN, especially at a time when Israel is asking the UN to play a greater role in providing services to the Palestinians. This attack has nothing to do with the Hamas election or UN activities in the West Bank and Gaza, and instead risks sending the message that the real goal of this bill is to assail Palestinians in every possible forum. APN is the premier Jewish, Zionist organization working to enhance Israel's security through peace. APN believes that strong U.S. leadership is the best hope for reducing Israeli-Palestinian violence and bringing about a political process that can eventually pave the way for security and peace for Israelis and Palestinians.

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom-Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom urges representatives to vote no on H.R. 4681. Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, is the nation's largest Jewish grassroots peace organization with a network of over 34,000 supporters who are committed to Israel's well-being through a negotiated two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

H.R. 4681, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, fails to serve the long-term interests of either the United States or Israel. Despite improvements over the original version, H.R. 4681 weakens moderate pro-peace Palestinians and emboldens extremists, ties the President's hands in dealing with emergency security crises, and drastically cuts critical US assistance to the Palestinian people. While there is international consensus that Ramas must renounce terrorism, recognize Israel, and abide by all previous agreements, this legislation goes well beyond those demands and undermines the U.S. role in bringing Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table towards the end of achieving a two-state resolution of the conflict.

Specifically, H.R. 4681: Obstructs a return to negotiations. H.R. 4681 requires an impossible-to-achieve Presidential certification, composed of an overly extensive number of requirements, in order to bypass the bill's many sanctions. This standard of certification goes well beyond the Quartet's demands, setting unprecedented preconditions for U.S. engagement with the Palestinians. Because these demands are unachievable in the near term or outside the context of a peace process, they prevent a return to negotiations and provide little incentive for Hamas to moderate its stance towards Israel.

Without the Presidential certification, whose requirements as noted above are nearly impossible to meet, this bill prohibits all direct aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA), with the small exception of a very limited Presidential waiver for funds to support independent elections and the peace process. Current law already forbids direct U.S. funding to the PA but allows the President much broader discretion in waiving this prohibition in the interests of national security. Limiting this waiver undercuts the Administration's ability to offer the PA incentives in addition to sanctions or to respond to unexpected security or humanitarian crises.

At a time when the UN is reporting an impending humanitarian disaster in the West Bank and Gaza, H.R. 4681 restricts U.S. assistance to the Palestinian people delivered through non-governmental organizations (NGOs). While the bill makes a small exemption for ``basic human health needs,'' it still creates onerous pre-notification requirements for all other NGO assistance to the Palestinian people. These NGOs address pressing humanitarian needs and help develop Palestinian civil society. A humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories will only increase support for extremism, thereby endangering Israel and further destabilizing the region.

H.R. 4681 restricts US diplomatic relations by prohibiting visas and travel (with limited waivers) for all members of the PA and the PLO regardless of whether or not they have connections to Hamas. In this respect, the bill prevents the US from fully engaging and bolstering moderate Palestinian leaders, such as President Mahmoud Abbas, who recognize and support peace with Israel. Existing US law already forbids members of Hamas and other foreign terrorist organizations from obtaining visas or having diplomatic relations with the United States.

As American Jews, we share profound dismay at the election of Hamas to the Palestinian Authority. Yet in this challenging hour, we urge you to maintain a cautious approach to the new Palestinian government, so as to preserve the future possibility of bringing Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table--which is the only path to achieve true peace and security for both peoples.

Vote No on H.R. 4681.

Mr. KUCINICH. I want to extend my condolences to the family of our colleague Mr. Cantor and also thank Ms. Ros-Lehtinen for her leadership and her commitment to attempting to create peace, as well as to speak directly to my dear friend, Mr. Lantos.

I think it is fair to say Israel has no greater champion in the Congress, and the American people have no greater champion for human rights than Mr. Lantos. His escape from the Holocaust is a story worthy of being taught in all of our schools.

I am here to ask: Is the past prologue? Is war and violence inevitable, or do we have the ability to create a new future where nonviolence, peace and reconciliation are possible through the work of our own hearts and hands?

I would not take issue with my friend Mr. Lantos' informed experience, and I join him in defense of Israel's right to survive. Mr. Lantos is my brother. The Israelis are our brothers and sisters. The Palestinians are our brothers and sisters. When our brothers and sisters are in conflict, when violence engulfs them, it is our responsibility to help our brothers and sisters end the violence, reconcile and fulfill the biblical injunction to turn hate to love, to beat swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks.

These are universal principles that speak to the triumph of hope over fear. We must call upon Hamas to renounce terror. We must call upon Hamas to disavow any intention for the destruction of Israel.

This ought to be a principle of negotiation with Hamas, not separation from the aspirations of the Palestinian people to survive.

I think we can speed the cause of peace by calling upon Israel to accept the Palestinians' right to self-determination and economical survival and humanitarian relief, for food, medical care, for jobs.

I ask, how can we arrive at a two-stage solution if we attempt to destroy one people's government's ability to provide? A two-state solution, I believe, can be achieved with our mutual, thoughtful patience and support. At a time when the U.N. is reporting a pending humanitarian disaster in the West Bank and Gaza, I believe this legislation would restrict U.S. assistance to the Palestinian people delivered through nongovernmental organizations. We know that, today, up to 80 percent of all Palestinians, particularly in parts of the Gaza strip, live at or below the poverty line. Unemployment stands at 53 percent of the total workforce.

Just as I join my good friends on both sides of the aisle in speaking out against violence, against Israel, I object in the strongest terms to any measure that will increase the humanitarian crisis of the Palestinian people. It is true that the recent Palestinian legislative elections have created a tense situation in the international community. It is a situation that demands thoughtful and deliberate action in pursuit of peace. Despite the best intentions of those who wrote this legislation, I do not believe this legislation will advance peace between the Palestinian and the Israeli people.

There are people in this Congress of goodwill and good intention who want to see both the Palestinian people and the Israeli people survive. Let us continue to work towards that end.

Mr. HINCHEY. Madam Speaker, I want to express my appreciation to the gentleman from Oregon for yielding me this time.

I also want to express my admiration, respect and affection for the gentleman from California, who is the sponsor of this legislation. But I do disagree with him on the effects that this legislation would have.

I am a strong supporter of the State of Israel. As such, I believe it is important to maintain independent and principled positions on Middle East issues. I believe that that requires a ``no'' vote on resolution 4681.

Hamas' victory in the elections for the Palestinian legislative council was indeed regrettable, and Hamas government's failure to condemn, much less take steps to prevent acts of terrorism is abhorrent. It is appropriate that the international community, including, of course, the United States, make a concerted and coordinated effort to pressure Hamas.

However, H.R. 4681 risks undermining such efforts, harming United States national security and undermining those Palestinian officials and activists who do recognize Israel, who do reject terror, and who do support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

H.R. 4681 subjugates U.S. national security interests to political grand standing. It does so by eliminating the President's authority to waive sanctions in the interests of United States national security, a waiver that is a standard component of virtually all U.S. sanctions legislation.

H.R. 4681 risks undermining Palestinian moderates and strengthening extremists by providing no political horizon that an alternate Palestinian leadership can strive to reach.

H.R. 4681 preconditions U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority and imposes sanctions based on criteria that are unrelated to the issues raised by the Hamas elections, and 4681 makes it more difficult for the United States to engage with alternatives to a Hamas-led government like President Mahmoud Abbas or the PLO. This proposal, unfortunately, is itself extreme, and as such, I believe, would do no good.

Rather, it will strengthen the position of extremists and increase the violence and destruction which has become more prevalent as the result of the expression and implementation of policies such as those contained in H.R. 4681.

I believe that we should defeat this proposed legislation and instead focus on something that would be more productive to achieve the kinds of solutions that we need to the problems that exist in the Middle East.

Ms. KAPTUR. Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the gentleman from Oregon, Mr. Blumenauer, for yielding me this time, and to thank Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, a staunch supporter of human rights, for coauthoring this legislation with our dear, dear and respected colleague from the State of California, Congressman TOM LANTOS, who is the once and future chair of this committee, I am sure, some day, and to say, as many others have stated this evening, we respect your life. Many of us love you and love your family.

Perhaps some of us have a deeper understanding of some of the tribulation that you have faced in your own life because our families have faced the same. We had relatives in what is now the nation of Ukraine, but in the Soviet Union, our uncles, who were sent to the gulag for over 20 years by Joseph Stalin. One died and one survived, miraculously, after 20 bitter years. So I think our family shares a deep personal understanding of what despotism and terror is.

I rise this evening because I have to say that this act, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, I fear will result not in less terrorism, but in more. I do not really believe it is in the interest of the United States, of Israel or the world to further radicalize elements in the Palestinian population, and I do believe this bill will do exactly that.

It is not in the interest of the government of the United States nor Israel nor the world to make it impossible for Palestinians to become more educated and to learn how to govern an emerging nation. Indeed, if our current policies as a world were so intelligent, they would not have yielded a Hamas to the point where it actually won an election and other elements of Palestinian society were so crippled and so inept and so disorganized that they were not able to govern in a way that an emerging nation state would.

I have asked myself during the gruesome Soviet period, what glimmers did we have, what connections did we have, what elements were we able to nurture that even provided a road forward?

I think of our family's East European heritage in Poland and enduring the most repressive times in Poland. This country found a way to support a non-governmental organization in the form of Solidarity, and there were church groups working and there were other groups that provided just small glimmers of light.

I remember a dear, dear friend, Reverend Martin Hernati born in the homeland of Congressman Lantos, who said to me, `Marcy, I am walking through a tunnel. It is very dark in the tunnel and I see no light at the end of the tunnel, but I must keep walking.''

I remember Cardinal Mindszenty in the nation of Hungary, locked up in the U.S. embassy for many years, as a single man, a single individual, as a symbol to the West.

I thought about the ``Refuseniks'' in the Soviet Union, how we connected with them, helping them to publish their works, helping to hear a voice from inside a closed society, and I asked myself, in this situation, what are the parallels? What are the parallels?

In this bill, no one wants to support Hamas. All we are asking for is the right to amend this bill to find other non-governmental groups that we can help to support, to help educate, to help inform, to help teach, in the hope, even though we are all walking through the tunnel and we see no light at the end of the tunnel, that we give the ordinary person, the moderate, and there are some moderates, some hope, some ability to connect.

I read from the statement of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who say in opposition to the current form of this bill, ``A further deterioration of the humanitarian and economic situation of the Palestinian people compromises human dignity and serves the long-term interests neither of Palestinians nor of Israelis who long for a just peace.

``Non-governmental organizations have a long history of helping the world's most vulnerable people. Their humanitarian role should be respected. While this work is not easy,'' and surely the gentleman from California knows it is not easy, surely the gentlelady from Florida knows it is not easy, ``it is essential. It deserves Congress' continued support.''

I would hope that with the Prime Minister of Israel coming here this week, that we would have a proposal that would take the Quartet and actually somehow have discussions, even a resolution, to try to restart the failed peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Wouldn't that be a great moment? Wouldn't it be worth being here and serving here? We need resolutions that will not radicalize, that will not divide, that will make peace possible.

Mr. RAHALL. Madam Speaker, I rise today to urge my colleagues to exercise restraint and perspective in our consideration of H.R. 4681.

President Bush's Administration has already stated the bill is ``unnecessary as the Executive branch already has ample authority to impose all its restrictions and it constrains the Executive branch's flexibility to use sanctions, if appropriate, as tools to address rapidly changing circumstances.'' With that kind of endorsement, we must ask ourselves what this legislation seeks to accomplish.

Additionally, the so-called Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 limits diplomatic visas to members of the Palestinian Authority and would tie the hands of the foreign policy community when it comes time to negotiate peace between the PA and Israel. How many times has peace been brokered on American soil? Eliminating dialogue does not help to advance peace in the region. Peace only comes through mutual understanding.

Reasonable, even intelligent people can, and frequently do, disagree on how best to achieve peace in the Middle East, but, peace must be the goal of our foreign policy tools, whether they be by the stick or by the carrot.

Peace cannot come from punishing the Palestinian people. Even Israel's Foreign Minister knows that. He states in Reuters, that, ``Israel is prepared to release Palestinian tax revenues into a proposed aid mechanism being set up by Middle East mediators to avert the collapse of the Palestinian health sector .....''

Instead, this legislation seeks to accomplish exactly what President Bush's Administration and the Israeli Foreign Minister realize is counterproductive. I can tell you that after 30 years in Congress, I have seen legislation succeed and fail. This legislation is rigid, and unnecessary.

To put it plainly, when you take from people who already have nothing, you breed trouble, you don't combat it. How easy will it be for Al-Qaeda to tell a man whose child is dying that the doctors are no longer there because the Americans took them away? How easy will it be to recruit a whole new generation of listless, impoverished youths?

Madam Speaker, I reject the idea that this legislation will combat terrorism. I reject it because we have history as our teacher.

The best nation-building, goodwill act that the United States has ever produced was the Marshall Plan after World War II. By rebuilding Europe, America continues to be stronger. Yes, there were communist factions that the United States deplored, but we knew the need was real, and punishing the whole for the acts of the few was wrongheaded in the extreme.

Today, our actions must be motivated only by our intense desire to achieve a just and lasting peace. The compassion and charity of the American people should be reflected in this legislation, though sadly, they are silenced.

Madam Speaker, make no mistake, a vote cast in favor of H.R. 4681 is not a vote for peace, it is not a vote for America and it is not a vote that I will cast.

I urge my colleagues to cast their votes against this unwise and unproductive resolution.

HR 4681, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, passed the House today (May 23rd) by a vote of 361-37, with 9 members voting present. The vote followed three hours of floor consideration of the bill the previous evening - consideration that, due to the manner in which the bill was brought to the floor, did not provide Members the opportunity to offer any amendments to the text (although in an eleventh-hour behind-the-scenes effort, House leadership intervened to make some changes to the bill text, including strengthening the proposed sanctions against the United Nations. These changes were not announced and it is likely that most members have no idea they were made at all).

HR 4681 is still a long way from becoming law, and it is highly unlikely that it will ever become law in its present form. Action on the measure now moves to the Senate, which has yet to take up their version of the bill. S. 2370. Hill sources report that Senate staffers from both parties are working to improve some of the most problematic sections of that bill, seeking to address many of the concerns expressed by both the Administration and APN.

It is by no means certain that the Senate will take up HR 4681/S. 2370 at all. Assuming the Senate does pass their version of the bill, the next step will be a House-Senate conference to try to reconcile what will undoubtedly be two vastly different texts and fundamentally different approaches to U.S. policy and the Palestinians. Stay tuned for more details.

PALESTINIAN ANTI-TERRORISM ACT OF 2006 -- (Extensions of Remarks - May 23, 2006)


MONDAY, MAY 22, 2006

Mr. STARK. Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 4681 because it inappropriately uses a blunt instrument to clumsily attempt to achieve Middle East peace. If this carelessly written and unnecessary legislation becomes law, it will set the Israeli-Palestinian peace process back further and result in additional Israeli and Palestinian deaths.

H.R. 4681 weakens moderate pro-peace Palestinians. This legislation does not discriminate in imposing sanctions against both Hamas and non-Hamas controlled elements and officials of the Palestinian Authority, PA. H.R. 4681 bans all aid to the Palestinian Legislative Council, PLC, and PA agencies and instrumentalities, including those not controlled by Hamas. Among the officials this bill prohibits from receiving assistance is Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has been instrumental in counterbalancing Hamas and working toward a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This legislation undermines diplomatic efforts to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East. This bill prohibits all members of the PA regardless of their affiliation or non-affiliation with Hamas--from obtaining visas necessary for diplomatic travel. This ill-advised rule will prevent the United States from fully engaging and bolstering moderate Palestinian leaders who recognize and support peace with Israel.

Even as the United Nations reports of an impending humanitarian disaster in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, this bill imposes unnecessarily strict sanctions on providing aid to Palestinian groups and non-government organizations not affiliated with Hamas. Under this legislation, the Palestinian people could receive essential medicine, but funds for democracy assistance, economic development, and sanitation infrastructure would be prohibited. This legislation therefore makes more likely a humanitarian crisis that will increase support for extremism, thereby endangering Israel and further destabilizing the region.

H.R. 4681 also ties the President's hands in dealing with emergency security and humanitarian crises. The bill limits the President's ability to waive financial sanctions and travel prohibitions. It onerously requires the President to obtain congressional approval for every waiver on a case-by-case basis, complicating and delaying an American response to, for example, new Palestinian elections or a natural disaster.

Moreover, this legislation is unnecessary. Current U.S. law already forbids members of Hamas and other foreign terrorist organizations from obtaining visas or having diplomatic relations with the United States. According to the Bush Administration, the executive branch already has ample authority to impose all of the bill's restrictions. It is a rare but notable occurrence for me to agree with this Administration.

While I believe, that America should not provide aid to Hamas, I oppose this bill's reckless approach to the Middle East peace process. I voted for S. Con. Res. 79, that states that the U.S. should not provide assistance directly to the PA if any representative political party holding a majority of parliamentary seats within the PA maintains a position calling for the destruction of Israel. Unlike the bill before us today, however, that resolution provided the executive branch the flexibility necessary to work with moderate Palestinian groups and permitted foreign aid to go to nongovernmental organizations.

I urge my colleagues to vote against this harmful legislation and to consider a more thoughtful approach to achieving peace in the Middle East.

PALESTINIAN ANTI-TERRORISM ACT OF 2006 -- (Extensions of Remarks - May 23, 2006)


Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Madam Speaker, the January victory of Hamas in parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories was a shock to observers worldwide and to the many of us in the United States and abroad who have repudiated violence between the Palestinians and the Jews and have repudiated attacks on the state of Israel.

The election was a shock to the peace efforts in the Middle East because its outcome resulted in the Palestinian government being controlled by a party that was legitimately elected by the voters of the Palestinian territories but that also is a party that sponsors terrorist acts against the Israeli-people and whose doctrine is based upon the notion that the existence of Israel is an affront to Islam.

For there to be any progress towards peace under a Hamas-led Palestinian government, Hamas must immediately acknowledge Israel's right to exist; uphold all previous agreements including the Roadmap for Peace; rid itself of all terrorist ties and dismantle its terrorist infrastructure; ensure the continuation of democratic institutions; and how fiscal transparency. If they do not, Hamas cannot expect the support and recognition of the United States and other governments.

However, any actions carried out by the U.S. Government against Hamas must address Hamas specifically and not the Palestinian people generally and must not undermine our goals in the Middle East. The bill being voted on today by the House would undermine the U.S. Government's ability to further the peace process and it would clearly hurt the Palestinian people. It could also lead to chaos in the Palestinian territories, which would be counter to both American and Israeli interests.

I am not alone in saying that denying all aid, except in the most isolated of instances, to the Palestinian people runs counter to both American and Israeli security interests. If we provoke a humanitarian crisis there, it may very well lead to the collapse of the Hamas government but not without potentially severe costs to both law abiding Palestinians and the peace process at the same time. And it could also erode civil order.

We do not and must not ever support terrorists in the Palestinian government. However, the United States must continue to support programs providing the Palestinian people's basic needs such as food, water and medicine; programs supporting democracy, human rights, freedom of the press and non-violence; as well as peaceful co-existence with Israel.

That is why I voted against H.R. 4681. The United States has already cut off direct aid to the Hamas government. This bill would not have brought additional penalties directly to Hamas. That objective has already been achieved. But it would penalize the Palestinian people and greatly limit the Administration's diplomatic options in pursuing peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

I hope that a conference committee with the Senate might produce legislation that addresses my concerns and the concerns of my other colleagues and of many well-regarded organizations and individuals who are deeply pro-Israel and who are great supporters of humanitarian efforts in the Middle East. I look forward to being able to support a revised bill that will send the proper message to Hamas that its violence toward Israel will never be supported and to the Palestinian people that the United States stands ready to work with them to resolve this most difficult and important conflict in peace.


Ms. LEE. Madam Speaker, today, the House considers H.R. 4681, legislation that I'm sad to say is both overbroad in its reach and misses the mark by penalizing the Palestinian people without compelling Hamas to abandon its anti-Israeli rhetoric, its rejectionist policies and its support for terror and violence.

First of all, Madam Speaker, I want to be clear: I have always and continue to unequivocally denounce and condemn any and all terrorist acts, whether committed by Hamas or any other terrorist group.

That is why I voted for S. Con. Res 79 in February which declared that that no U.S. assistance should be provided directly to the Palestinian Authority if any representative political party holding a majority of parliamentary seats within the Palestinian Authority maintains a position calling for the destruction of Israel.

My position on Hamas's responsibilities in light of its having attained a majority of seats in the Palestinian Legisltive Council, and thus its assumption of power as the governing party of the Palestinian Authority, has been clear:

Hamas must recognize Israel; Hamas must renounce violence and terrorism; Hamas must abide by previous peace agreements, like the Oslo accord, and act in accordance with the Roadmap; and Hamas must return the Palestinians to the negotiating table with Israel, and reach the mutually agreeable peace agreement that is called for in the Roadmap and the earlier agreements.

This is Hamas's responsibility of governance. I believe the United States should do everything that it can to both insist upon and to facilitate Hamas taking up this burden of responsibility, and we should not rest until the goal of a negotiated settlement is achieved. Moreover, we should not slow the Middle East peace process by making these targets preconditions for our engagement in the process. As the assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin reminded us: I do not need to make peace with my friends.

Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to understand that engagement and negotiation for peace is a process not an event, and it necessarily involves the belligerents to a conflict not those whom we would aspire to put at the negotiating table.

I agree that we should not fund Hamas, but not at the expense of average Palestinians which is the end result of this legislation. Among other things, this legislation obstructs a


Mr. MORAN of Virginia. Madam Speaker, I rise today to voice my opposition to the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006.

Madam Speaker, this bill claims that its goal is to ensure that no United States funding goes to support Hamaas, a foreign terrorist organization that has terrorized thousands and seeks the destruction of Israel. Were this what the bill in fact does, I would support it. However, the bill before us today goes much further than what is needed to achieve its stated, goal.

First, H.R. 4681 severely restricts U.S. funding to the many non-governmental organizations that provide critical aid and services to the Palestinian people, and allows for such funding without a presidential waiver for the most basic of services, such as food and shelter. This serves no good purpose. Limiting NGO funding in this manner will only increase the hardship of the Palestinian people. Yes, it is possible that this increased hardship may drive Palestinians to turn against the Hamas-controlled Palestinian government. At the same time, however, the cause of this additional hardship--the termination in U.S. humanitarian aid--will provide a ready excuse to Hamas, allowing it to blame the United States, and others, for its failure. This is not in our interest.

We must not give this ``out'' to Hamas. Instead, we must ensure that, when Hamas fails in its attempt to govern, as it certainly will, it will not be able to blame the United States or any other party for its inability to deliver what the Palestinian people expected.

Second, restricting United States aid to NGOs in this manner will hurt the very people we should be assisting. The Palestinian people are facing an economic crisis that goes beyond basic food and shelter, and includes education, public health, economic development and physical infrastructure. It is in the United States' interest to provide such assistance if we are in fact in support of a two-state solution and peace in the Middle East.

Third, placing tight restrictions and sanctions on those parts of the Palestinian Authority that are not controlled by Hamas is a serious mistake, for it precludes our executive branch from working with governmental officials who may be viable options to Hamas. Other provisions in the bill--restricting the ability of all Palestinian Authority representatives to travel in the United States, interfering with the participation of Palestinian Authority representatives in international organizations, and refusing assistance to the Pestinian judiciary--are petty actions that will not, in any way, advance peace in the Middle East.

There is a high likelihood that as a result of this bill, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority will turn around and seek the support from wealthy Arab and Muslim states, as well as extremist governments, like Iran and Syria. The message that this bill sends will push the Palestinian people away from us and quite possibly, the peace process. It will isolate them and force them to become more dependent on Hamas and their extremist supporters. This is not in our interest.

Madam Speaker, it is clear that the purpose of our every response to the Hamas electoral victory and to the fact that it now controls the Palestinian Authority must be (i) to deny any form of direct assistance until Hamas renounces its terrorist traditions and policy, (ii) to assist in the delivery of humanitarian aid and relief to the Palestinian people, and (iii) at least for as long as Hamas does not actively engage in or support violence, to refrain from any actions that will deepen the divide between the Palestinian people and this country, thereby allowing some room for progress to occur. The bill under consideration fails to meet two of these criteria. For these reasons, I will not support it.


Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Madam Speaker, as someone with a great interest in Israel, Middle Eastern affairs, and world peace, I believe that we should remain cognizant of the importance of open communication, peaceful dialogue, and positive debate. I have a sincere affection and respect for both people and I pray for a peaceful resolution of deep seeded differences. We are living in historic times, and we have an opportunity to play a significant part in the Arab-Israeli peace process.

This legislation rightly calls upon Hamas to renounce terrorism, and recognize Israel as an independent, sovereign, Jewish and democratic state. I too recognize the need for a secure Israel and the need for a peaceful resolution for the Israel and Palestinian people. For many, peace is a long awaited dream and I am certain that with time, they will eventually realize this dream. I also advocate for cessation of aid to a Hamas led government of Palestinian Authority since they have refused to renounce violence and terrorism as part of their military tactics. I am certain a government that refuses to curtail their terrorist ideals can run the gamut on outrageous and purposefully unrealistic demands.

I am concerned that some of the provisions of H.R. 4681 directly undermine the goal of securing peace.

I question the prudence in ostracizing Hamas from the international community and forbidding contact with the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Legislative Council when some of its members do not belong to Hamas or any foreign terrorist organization. Many of these members have in fact renounced terrorism, recognized Israel and negotiated the prior agreements. I am concerned that these tactics will only hurt relationships with moderate Palestinian leaders whose support and cooperation are vital to ensuring peace.

I am not resigned to the notion that impoverishing a country and hence a people falls within the scope of our duties in ensuring a peaceful resolution. These people are already suffering tremendous poverty and unemployment increases.

We must find a way to punish the evil doers without victimizing their innocent neighbors. I am certain that this legislation surpasses the formation of a militaristic strategy and enters the venue of instilling punitive economic and diplomatic sanctions against the Palestinian people. We cannot restrict U.S. humanitarian aid and potentially eliminate entire U.S. aid projects, such as vital infrastructure and small business development. We cannot threaten to withhold a portion of U.S. dues to the United Nations because it allows bodies to advocate for Palestinian human rights. I am concerned about the innocent people who will suffer the consequences in denouncing the provisions of the U.S. free trade agreement with the West Bank and Gaza.

I know that refusing visas to members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, including those who belong to political parties that the United States does not classify as ``foreign terrorist organizations,'' will deter ensuring a peaceful resolution. I am concerned that negating visas to members of the PLO diplomats at the United Nations and threatening to close the PLO's office in Washington will close the channels of communication.

Madam Speaker, I have long been an advocate for peace and I pray for a peaceful resolution of the Arab and Israeli people. It is in that spirit, and with that faith, that I will continue to work with the administration to ensure the United States remains firm in its commitment to the security of Israel and to those principles necessary to guarantee the success of the Arab-Israeli peace process.

The wording of this Resolution changed to include much of the negative language after I signed on as a co-sponsor.


Mr. FARR. Madam Speaker, as a Member of Congress who's served in the Peace Corps, I've always considered myself a man of peace.

I strongly support current U.S. law that prevents any funding from going to Hamas, which he State Department has rightly classified as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. A Hamas controlled Palestinian Authority is antithetical to a peaceful Middle East or a two-state solution.

On May 23 the House approved H.R. 4681, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006. If I was convinced that passage of this bill would foster peace in the Middle East, I would have voted for it. Unfortunately, I felt compelled to oppose the bill because I do not believe it will help Israel, our only democratic ally in the region, or improve grassroots efforts to reach a peace agreement. In particular, H.R. 4681 would make it nearly impossible to fund non-governmental organization (NGO) reconciliation programs that work to build peace. By funding NGOs that work towards reconciliation and peace we undermine the ideology of hate that Hamas perpetuates. The Senate version of this bill, S. 2370, specifically includes an exception that allows for funding for coexistence and reconciliation activities: ``(2) ASSISTANCE TO PROMOTE DEMOCRACY--Assistance to promote democracy, human rights, freedom of the press, non-violence, reconciliation, and peaceful co-existence, provided that such assistance does not directly benefit Hamas or other foreign terrorist organizations.'' If the joint House-Senate conference agrees to include the above Senate language in the conference report, I will support H.R. 4681.

A secure Israel and a two-state solution are the cornerstones to achieving peace in the region, and grassroots conflict prevention is the critical first step of the foundation for peace.


Mr. MARSHALL. Madam Speaker, I plan to publish additional thoughts elsewhere about why I voted against H.R. 4681, The Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006. I expect to be joined in these thoughts by Dr. Bruce Hoffman, a world renowned expert on the subject of terrorism. For now, however, let me simply offer the following brief observations for today's RECORD, particularly because my vote so angered a valued colleague of mine.

In my view, H.R. 4681 passed the House by an overwhelming majority earlier today because my colleagues seek the end of violent jihadist terrorism and are committed to protecting Israel and its citizens. As my words, votes and actions consistently show, I strongly share these objectives. But at this juncture, I would try a different strategy to attain them.

The storied Archibald Wavell, then a young British officer who had served on Allenby's staff in Palestine, offered this prescient bit of irony about the treaties ending World War I: ``After the `war to end war' they seem to have been pretty successful in Paris at making a `peace to end peace'.'' That his prediction has come true thus far is of grave concern to the United States and Israel, two fast allies facing violent jihadist enemies with access to ever more sophisticated killing technology. Somehow we must break the cycle of hatred and violence.

Though facially counterintuitive given its history of hatred and violence, I believe Hamas' victory in the Palestinian elections offers a rare, if slim, opportunity to break this cycle, an opportunity well worth exploring given the enormous stakes and intractable nature of the problem. Unfortunately H.R. 4681 squanders that opportunity by rushing to judgment about the added danger of Hamas as a majority legislative party and by merely continuing strategies that have failed for decades to secure a lasting peace. It and the economic embargo already undertaken by Israel and the United States are apt to further radicalize the Palestinian population (and the Arab world generally), accelerating and extending the cycle of violence and broadening the opportunity for Al Qaeda in Palestine.

Hamas, in the short run, cannot credibly agree to the three preconditions set in H.R. 4681. But it can agree to a cessation of violence while diplomacy progresses. With luck, time and diplomatic skill, that might lead to a peace agreement accepted by Hamas and, hence, worth something more than the paper evidencing it. Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah has said that Hamas could redefine its position if doing so would further the interests of the Palestinian people. And polls consistently show a majority of Palestinians will accept a two state solution and recognition of Israel.

Hamas now enjoys Ariel Sharon-like strength and credibility among Arabs and Palestinians. No question its election victory at least calls for extra vigilance and caution from Israel and the West. It has committed acts of terrorism which all decent people condemn in the strongest terms. But Hamas, given time to change and adjust, may have the strength and credibility to break the cycle of hatred and violence on behalf of those it now represents, the Palestinian people. After all, Sharon changed. And who but Sharon could have accomplished the withdrawal from Gaza?

I understand a number of my colleagues voted against H.R. 4681 for humanitarian reasons. These are certainly compelling, but I agree with the vast majority of my colleagues that such issues must take a back seat to the fundamental, long term security issues presented by the Hamas electoral victory. My ``no'' vote is quite narrowly based. I think this situation calls for time and diplomacy. H.R. 4681 offers neither and evidences, yet again, why Congress should not be conducting our foreign policy.


Mr. UDALL of New Mexico. Madam Speaker, I strongly oppose the manner in which H.R. 4681 was brought to the floor of the House. To bring a bill of this importance up under suspension of the rules, without the opportunity for amendment or full debate, was an unfortunate decision and is a bad way for this body to be legislating. The process should be open, with every chance for members to deliberate and offer substantive and positive change to what is a very complex bill.

H.R. 4681 is well-meaning legislation. Unfortunately, it implements a foreign policy that could potentially reduce future diplomatic options for the U.S. Department of State. While the legislation should specifically target the terrorist group Hamas, it unnecessarily includes nearly all members of the Palestinian Authority--PA--Government, and will punish the entire Palestinian people.

There is no doubt that Hamas firmly believes in terrorism as a means to achieve their goals. The U.S. must continue to denounce the group's ideology. However, H.R. 4681 includes provisions which I believe will make it even more difficult for the PA to find its way back to the roadmap and to achieve peace. This includes expecting Hamas to reach specific benchmarks--benchmarks that no other PA government has been able to achieve--before receiving aid from the U.S. It includes expanding travel restriction and economic sanctions to include all members of the PA Government and all Palestinians, not simply those who are members of Hamas. Also, it includes no national security waiver which would allow the President the flexibility he needs to diplomatically deal with the situation.

Madam Speaker, this legislation is opposed by many non-governmental organizations, including those who are providing health, education, and humanitarian aid throughout the Middle East. It is also opposed by the Bush administration, which believes the legislation to be unnecessary. U.S. Secretary of State Rice has repeatedly spoken of the need for the U.S. to do all it can to be a leader in promoting peace in the Middle East, and she believes that this legislation is not the appropriate way in which to continue that leadership. This opposition from the very individual who is implementing and creating U.S. foreign policy should give us pause, and should give us even more reason not to be bringing this legislation up under suspension.

There is no question that the terrorist actions of Hamas necessitate action by the U.S. and that every Member of this body opposes Hamas. With passage of H.R. 4681, and passage of similar legislation in the Senate, I hope that a conference report takes into account all of the concerns that have been raised and substantively alters the content within this bill to ensure the Palestinian people do not unnecessarily suffer. We must enact smart foreign policy that is strong enough to bring about change, but which does not tie the hands of the President or marginalize moderate Palestinians who desire positive change.


Mr. MCDERMOTT. Madam Speaker, it is not very often that JIM MCDERMOTT rises to support this President, but that is precisely what I am doing now.

The President does not want his hands tied by the passage of H.R. 4681. I couldn't agree more.

H.R. 4681, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, will not make Israel safer, will not meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people, and will not give our diplomats the tools they need to help find a path to peace in the Mideast.

For all of these reasons, I oppose it, and I urge my colleagues to reconsider.

I believe in diplomacy as a means to correct injustice around the world. I believe gifted diplomats can accomplish as much with words and deeds as the military can with guns and soldiers.

There is no question that the United States must take all appropriate steps to ensure that terrorists like Hamas are denied access to our financial aid. Not a penny should go to those who do not renounce terrorism.

Hamas is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent Israelis before coming to power. Since then, they have neither renounced the use of violence nor recognized Israel. This is unacceptable.

By all means, we must deny Hamas dollars that would buy hatred, but we must remember that Hamas and the Palestinian people are not one and the same.

Even as we deny any and all assistance to Hamas, we must not hurt those Palestinians who are working for peace. If we fail to support them, I have no doubt that Israel will pay the ultimate price: more instability in the West Bank and Gaza, more desperation, and more terrorism.

America's leadership is on the line in the Middle East, and more instability is something we need to avoid at all cost. We still have 130,000 American soldiers in harm's way in Iraq; we can't afford to make any more poor choices related to that region.

But, that's exactly what we will do if we pass this bill. It doesn't make sense for the United States to limit political and economic aid to moderates, like Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

He and others have met our government's requirements by recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and terrorism against Israel, and accepting all previously signed Israeli-Palestinian agreements. What happens if we turn our back on leaders trying to heal a millennium of hate?

And what can we expect if we turn our backs on the real and growing humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people? It doesn't make sense to put restrictions on funding the NGOs that provide the Palestinian people with hospitals and schools.

As a medical doctor, I am gravely concerned about the fate of millions of innocent Palestinians who rely on international aid for food, health care, and for developing their economy and businesses.

Recent news reports say that international sanctions are preventing hospitals in Gaza from providing dialysis machines for patients, and they may not be able to supply immunizations to children.

The World Health Organization sees a ``rapid decline of the public health system ..... towards a possible collapse.'' If left untreated, these conditions will nurture a breeding ground for more hatred, more violence, and more terrorism.

This bill will only increase the restrictions on aid to the Palestinians and that will make the already dire situation even worse.

As a doctor I took an oath to heal. As a nation, we took an oath to lead. Allowing innocent Palestinians to go hungry, while denying them medical treatment cannot possibly correct injustice, or lead to peace.

If passed, this bill will be seen as anti-Palestinian, and the resulting chaos and animosity can only threaten the relative calm that Israel has enjoyed for the past year and a half. This bill does not help Israel.

Many of the Israeli leaders I've spoken to, think this bill goes too far by punishing all Palestinians, not just Hamas. They understand that a radicalized population will show more support for Hamas, not less.

During a recent trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories, I saw how both sides deeply yearn for peace. And I saw firsthand how they need the United States to do all it can to help them make peace. The Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act will make this task enormously difficult.

The harsh restrictions, and cutting off contacts with moderate Palestinians, will severely complicate our ability to assume an active role in helping both sides resolve the conflict.

If we cannot engage with moderates, and those trying to develop the Palestinian economy and build civil society, we forfeit our ability to nurture and strengthen the positive elements in Palestine.

We need a bill that allows us the utmost flexibility to help moderate Palestinians, to quickly get economic and humanitarian aid to places that need it, like hospitals and health clinics, and helps prevent the resumption of terrorism. This bill does not meet these criteria.

We need to isolate and weaken Hamas, and hopefully their tenure at the head of the PA will be a short one. But if we cannot distinguish between Hamas and the majority of the Palestinian people, we cannot possibly expect to have a role in creating what comes next.

Israelis and Palestinians realize that in the end, their fates are tied. When Palestinians' lives get worse, so do those of Israelis.

It's time to help the majorities on both sides reach their mutual goal--a peaceful two-state solution--rather than standing in the way by punishing one side.

Give our State Department an opportunity to nurture peace, or we will surely have to ask our military to counter more terrorism. Vote against H.R. 4681.

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (press release)

For Immediate Release - Tuesday, May 23, 2006; Contact: Frank E. Watkins - 202.225.0773


Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., today said, "I voted `Present' today on H.R. 4681 because it is overly broad, restricts humanitarian aid and could make matters worse. It also undermines our ability to serve as an honest broker and mediator for a just and lasting peace. I condemn and stand firm against terror in any form, anywhere in the world. Hamas, which recently won a majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), has regularly and uniformly supported terror against the Israeli people and has continually denied Israel's right to exist. Everyone agrees that's an unacceptable position.

"H.R. 4681 uses an axe instead of a scalpel for the delicate surgery of separating the 75 percent of Palestinians who support a two-state solution from Hamas. It undercuts Palestinian moderates, both those already elected and those who might stand for office in the future, by omitting a sunset clause - a key element of any effective sanctions legislation. Such a clause would provide a clear political path for the Palestinian people and moderate political leaders, instead of making permanent the ban on Palestinian humanitarian aid. The ban undermines a credible anti-terror and pro-reform message that should be unambiguous in the resolution.

"Palestinians rank in the bottom 50% of the UN's human development index. They earn, on average, an estimated one tenth as much per year as do Israelis, and they have a mediocre adult literacy rate. H.R. 4681 further exacerbates this situation by permitting only very limited humanitarian assistance for the West Bank and Gaza to meet `basic human health needs' (as compared to the Senate version, which permits aid to flow for `basic human needs'.) For any other assistance, it requires the President to certify not only that the provision of such aid will further the national security interests of the U.S., but also that the President get Congress to approve such assistance in advance on a case-by-case basis. The President must also explain how failure to provide the assistance would conflict with U.S. national security interests.

"Furthermore, this bill includes extraneous and superfluous measures completely unrelated to punishing Hamas. Indeed, some provisions would do the exact opposite. For instance, Section 6 contains a provision barring members of the PLC from getting visas to visit the U.S. - an act which could target, ironically, elected members of the PLC who are NOT members of Hamas or any other foreign terrorist organization. Under current law, individuals who are members of foreign terrorist organizations are already barred from obtaining visas.

"Sections 7 and 8 contain provisions that would restrict the movements of Palestinian officials at the United Nations, and threatens to close any Palestinian representative missions in the U.S. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), of which Hamas is not a member, maintains diplomatic relations with Israel and the international community. Therefore, this provision targets the PLO instead of Hamas, having the potential effect of ending dialogue with an organization that has signed agreements with Israel, is not listed as a foreign terrorist organization, and supports a two-state solution and the Quartet's Road Map.

"It's inhumane to cut off humanitarian assistance, and imposing a ban on communication is counterproductive. The only way for warring factions to make a just and lasing peace is to talk it out instead of fighting it out. I look forward to voting for a bill that is modified to include the productive provisions in the Senate measure," Jackson concluded.