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APN Legislative Round-Up - April 13, 2007

I. Bills, Resolutions, Dear Colleagues II. Turning up the heat on HR 1400 and S. 970 III. APN on HR 1400 and S. 970 IV. APN Applauds Pelosi and other Members of Congress on Middle East Trip

for the week ending April 13, 2007

I. Bills, Resolutions, Dear Colleagues
II. Turning up the heat on HR 1400 and S. 970
III. APN on HR 1400 and S. 970
IV. APN Applauds Pelosi and other Members of Congress on Middle East Trip

(NOTE: Both the House and Senate were in recess March 31-April 9. The Senate returned to session April 10, while the House will remains in recess until April 16).

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I. BILLS, RESOLUTIONS, DEAR COLLEAGUES
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(PALESTINIAN SANCTIONS) HR 1856: Introduced 3/30/07 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and 5 co- sponsors, the "Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act Amendments of 2007." (For an in-depth examination of this bill, please see the 3/30/07 edition of the Round-Up.) In contrast to last year's Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act (HR 4681) -- which was introduced with 30 original cosponsors, including key members from both parties -- HR 1856 has no Democratic cosponsors at all, and especially notable is the absence of House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Lantos (D-CA) and HCFA Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee Chairman Ackerman (D-NY), both of whom were original cosponsors of HR 4681. Given this absence of more broad-based, bipartisan support, the bill appears, at least for now, to be dead in the water.

(ISRAELI SOLDIERS) S. Res. 107: Introduced 3/1/07 by Sen. Clinton (D-NY) and 10 cosponsors, "Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Israeli soldiers held captive by Hamas and Hezbollah, and for other purposes." (This is the Senate version of H. Res. 107, passed by the House on 3/13/07.)

(LEBANON) On April 11 Senators Sununu (R-NH) and Bond (R-MO) began circulating a Dear Colleague seeking cosigners on a letter to Conferees on HR 1591 (the FY07 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, currently in conference). The letter asks Conferees to preserve report language included in the House Supplemental setting aside $10 million for American educational institutions in Lebanon, noting that "The current ideological standoff in Lebanon highlights the need to commit additional resources to Lebanon. It would be a mistake not to provide additional funds to the Americans schools that have educated thousands of students. These institutions have a great track record in fostering open dialogue and tolerance, and furthering an understanding of what America stands for in terms of economic opportunity, growth, and democracy."

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II. TURNING UP THE HEAT ON IRAN
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As discussed in the 3/9/07 edition of the Round-Up, new Iran sanctions legislation was a centerpiece of the March 2007 AIPAC policy conference in Washington. During the conference AIPAC activists pressed House members to cosponsor HR 1400 (introduced 3/8/07 by Rep. Lantos and seven cosponsors, "To enhance United States diplomatic efforts with respect to Iran by imposing additional economic sanctions against Iran, and for other purposes"). Shortly thereafter on 3/22/07, the Senate version of the bill, S. 970, was introduced by Sen. Smith (R-OR) and 10 cosponsors ("to impose sanctions on Iran and on other countries for assisting Iran in developing a nuclear program, and for other purposes").

On April 12th AIPAC issued an Action Alert urging activists around the country to press Members of Congress to co-sponsor the bills. This is, it appears, the first active (public) push by AIPAC on this legislation since the policy conference, and may indicate plans to press for movement on the legislation soon.

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Text of the AIPAC Action Alert

April 12, 2007

Urge Members of Congress to Cosponsor and Support Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007

Comprehensive Legislation in Both Houses Seeks to Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons Capability

Iran continues to defy the international community by pressing ahead with its enrichment of uranium. Just this week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made an announcement claiming that Iran is now producing nuclear fuel on an industrial scale. With the Senate now back in session and the House scheduled to return on Monday, it is more important than ever for Congress to pass comprehensive legislation aimed at preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. House and Senate leaders recently introduced the Iran Counter- Proliferation Act of 2007. Senators Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) are cosponsors of the Senate version of the legislation (S. 970). In the House of Representatives, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced H.R. 1400. Both bills contain similar provisions aimed at increasing economic and political pressure on Iran to persuade Tehran to end its nuclear program.

Among the provisions in both bills:

Tighten Enforcement of Existing U.S. Sanctions Law:

> Require the Secretary of the Treasury to report every six months on any foreign investments in Iran's energy sector since January 1, 2007, and on the administration's actions dealing with such investments.

>Impose sanctions on US parent companies if their foreign subsidiaries conducted business in Iran that would be unlawful for the parent company.

>Prevent U.S. subsidiaries of foreign oil companies that are sanctioned for investing in Iran's oil sector from receiving U.S. tax benefits for oil and gas exploration.

>End all Iranian exports to the United States and restricts U.S. exports to Iran to food and medicine.

>Add the selling of oil tankers to Iran to the list of sanctionable items under the Iran Sanctions Act.

>Provide legal authorization to seize Iranian assets in the United States.

Prohibit U.S. Nuclear Cooperation with Russia:

>Require the implementation of any U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement with Russia to be conditioned on presidential certification that Russia has ceased nuclear cooperation with Iran.

Isolate Iran from International Financial Institutions:

>Reduce U.S. contributions to the World Bank based on the percentage the bank gives in loans to Iran.

>Encourage the executive branch to increase use of American leverage in the international financial sector to further isolate Iran.

>Encourage the administration to prohibit all Iranian state-owned banks from using the U.S. banking system.

Urge Terrorist Designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards:

>Urge the president to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on U.S. terror lists and require the president to report to Congress on the steps he has taken.

Promote Democracy:

>Authorize increased funding for people-to- people contact between Americans and Iranians as a way to encourage a return to a civil and democratic society.

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III. APN ON HR 1400 AND S. 970
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On 4/13/07 APN sent a message to all House and Senate offices opposing HR 1400 and S. 970, and including the text of APN's recent policy statement on Iran (for the full text of that statement, see the 3/15/07 edition of the Round-Up).

APN's message on HR 1400 and S. 970 stated:

Americans for Peace Now (APN) views with grave concern Iran's continued determination to expand its nuclear program to the point where it could produce and deliver nuclear weapons. In this regard, APN supports the imposition of targeted U.S. economic sanctions against Iran, but believes strongly that such sanctions should be part of a comprehensive strategy that includes both carrots and sticks. Experience in the region demonstrates that sanctions alone are not likely to do the job; what is necessary for an effective policy is to combine sanctions with diplomacy, as the Iraq Study Group recommended. APN is a Jewish, Zionist organization committed to achieving peace and security for Israel, and supporting the Israeli Peace Now movement. APN's full position on Iran, articulated in a policy paper issued March 2007, is copied at the bottom of this email.

Unfortunately, HR 1400/S. 970 does not embody this kind of comprehensive strategy. Rather, it represents a perpetuation and escalation of the existing "sticks-only" policy. If enacted into law, it would impose broader sanctions -- employing bigger, blunter sticks -- that would target not only Iran but all those members of the international community who do not share the U.S. sanctions-only approach. Not only would such a policy likely fail to sway Iran, but it would likely complicate and seriously strain relations with those very nations whose cooperation the U.S. needs in order to craft a comprehensive policy toward Iran policy that can deliver success (e.g., the Europeans, Russia, Japan).

APN believes that the national security interests of both Israel and the U.S. are best served by the U.S. adopting a constructive, proactive approach in dealing with Iran. We therefore urge Congress to reject the dangerous and discredited approach to Iran embodied in HR 1400/S. 970, and instead support a policy of limited, constructive engagement. Together with the Europeans and other relevant parties, the U.S. should be working urgently to develop a basket of meaningful diplomatic and economic carrots and sticks sufficient to persuade Iran to halt further development of its nuclear program.

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IV. APN APPLAUDS PELOSI AND OTHER MEMBERS OF CONGRESS ON MIDDLE EAST TRIP
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APN press release, issued 4/6/07

APN Salutes Pelosi's Engagement with Syria; Slams Bush's Intransigence

Washington, D.C.--Americans for Peace Now (APN) today sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, thanking her for her diplomatic efforts to engage Syria and explore potential Israel-Syria talks. APN is a Jewish, Zionist organization dedicated to enhancing Israel's security through peace and to supporting the Israeli Peace Now movement.

APN sent similar letters to nine other Members of Congress who recently visited Syria, including five Democrats and four Republicans: Tom Lantos (D-CA; Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Nick Rahall (D-WV), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Frank Wolf (R-VA), Joe Pitts (R-PA), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), and David Hobson (R-OH).

The APN letter to Speaker Pelosi, signed by APN Chair Franklin M. Fisher and APN President and CEO Debra DeLee, read:

"On behalf of Americans for Peace Now (APN), we applaud your visit to Israel and other countries in the Middle East. In particular, we salute your diplomatic engagement with Syria and your efforts to explore the possibility of Israel-Syria negotiations. We are heartened that Members of Congress from both parties visited both Israel and Syria this week. APN is a Jewish, Zionist organization dedicated to enhancing Israel's security through peace and to supporting the Israeli Peace Now movement.

"Syrian President Bashar Assad has repeatedly called for direct, unconditional peace negotiations with Israel. As Israel's most important ally and because of America's national security interests, the United States should facilitate Israel-Syria talks. Unfortunately, repeated media reports present an alarming pattern in which the Bush Administration appears to be pressuring Israel to not even talk about peace with Syria. In February, for example, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was asked by Israeli officials about exploratory talks with Syria, Rice's answer reportedly was: 'Don't even think about.' It is outrageous that the United States would tell Israel that it could not talk peace with its neighbors.

"There are some who view the Syrian regime as irredeemable and favor policies that seek to change the regime, rather than those that seek to change the behavior of the regime. This is a dangerous approach, ignoring the possibility of both failure and unintended consequences -- like increased violence on the Israel-Lebanon border. Syria will continue to play a critical role -- positive or negative -- in a region which is central to U.S. national security. We applaud your efforts to engage Syria diplomatically.

"In Israel the horrors of last summer's war remain vivid. They know that in the absence of peace agreements, it is only a matter of time before the next war. Now is the time to test whether an Israel-Syria peace accord can be reached. We commend your efforts and look forward to your continued courage and leadership as a true friend of Israel."


For more information, contact Lara Friedman, APN Director of Policy and Government Relations, at 202/728-1893, or at lfriedman@peacenow.org.