To return to the new Peace Now website click here.

APN Legislative Round-Up for the week ending November 11, 2011

1. Bills, Resolutions and Letters
2. Syria Hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
3. Some additional aid to the Palestinians released by Ros-Lehtinen
4. Odds and Ends

Note: For anyone who missed it, this week - the 16th anniversary (on the Jewish calendar) of the murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin - Peace Now in Israel was targeted by right-wing extremists seeking to terrorize it into silence. First there was a bomb threat (accompanied by "Price Tag" graffiti). Then there were death threats spray painted inside the stairwell leading to the Jerusalem apartment of Hagit Ofran, who leads Peace Now's Settlement Watch (and is familiar to many on the Hill), including "Rabin Waits for You" and "Hagit Ofran, z'l" (which is the Hebrew equivalent of "rest in peace"). You can read more about it here. APN has also published a timeline of "Price Tag" attacks (Jan 2011-present), showing the clear escalation and the increasing focus by these extremists on targets inside the Green Line (we will update it, as necessary).

1. Bills, Resolutions and Letters

(FOROPS - SENATE) S. 1601: The Senate is expected to take up S. 1601, the FY12 ForOps bill, next week as part of a new "minibus" [mini-omnibus bill]. For Middle East-related details of S. 1601, see the Sept. 17- Oct. 4 edition of the Round-Up. On 11/8/11 Congressional Quarterly reported that "Republican senators are lining up a long list of amendments to the State Department and foreign operations appropriations bill, complicating a plan to debate the bill as early as next week as part of a second funding package...A half dozen Republican senators have confirmed that they are considering introducing one or more amendments to the State and Foreign Operations spending bill on a variety of foreign policy issues. Many are likely to include significant cuts to foreign aid, and there is also a growing focus on U.S. policy in the Middle East." These reportedly include:

  • A Sen. Kirk (R-IL) amendment (much like the Berman (D-CA) amendment to last week's Iran sanctions bill - details here) that would likely require sanctions against Iran's Central Bank (in case there is any doubt about Kirk's intentions here, on 11/7/11 he announced his planned amendment in a press release entitled: Kirk to Lead Bipartisan Effort to Collapse Central Bank of Iran);
  • A Sen. Graham (R-SC) amendment to require the U.S. to formally withdraw from any UN agency that grants the Palestinians full membership (rather than just cutting off funds);
  • Another Kirk amendment to require yet another audit of UNRWA.

(UN "REFORM") S. 1848: Introduced 11/10/11 by Sen. Rubio (R-FL), along with Sens. Crapo (R-ID) and Inhofe (R-OK), "A bill to promote transparency, accountability, and reform within the United Nations system, and for other purposes." Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. This appears to be a Senate version of HR 2829, Rubio's fellow Floridian Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's (R-FL) UN "reform" bill, passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on 10/13/11 (for bill details, see here). Rubio's press release announcing the introduction of the bill is available here, and his floor statement on the bill is available here. Among other things, the press release notes that (like HR 2829), Rubio's bill "Withholds U.S. contributions from any UN agency or program that upgrades the status of the Palestinian observer mission outside a negotiated settlement with Israel," "Makes it U.S. policy to lead a high-level diplomatic campaign to revoke and repudiate the Goldstone Report and its follow-on measures by the UN General Assembly," "Withholds U.S. funding from any part of the UN's flawed Durban process, which has been hijacked by rogue regimes and used to advance an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, anti-Western, anti-freedom agenda," and "Conditions U.S. funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) providing assistance to Palestinians refugees until UNRWA meets certain safeguards against terrorist links."

(EGYPT) H. Res. 459: Introduced 11/4/11 by Rep. Adherholt (R-AL) and having 6 cosponsors, "Encouraging any new government convened in Egypt to fully allow for the freedom of religion."
Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(COAST GUARD AUTHORIZATION BILL - IRAN) H. Amdt. 856 to HR 2838: On 11/4/11 Rep. LoBiondo (R-NJ) offered an en bloc amendment to HR 2838 - the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act - on the House floor. The en bloc amendment, which was adopted by a voice vote, included an amendment offered by Rep. McCaul (R-TX) targeting Iran. Rep. Green (R-TX) explained the amendment as follows: "For over 75 years, the Jones Act allowed only one non-governmental organization, the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), a not-for-profit marine classification society located in my district in Houston, the authority to review and inspect U.S. flagged vessels on behalf of the U.S. Coast Guard. In 1996, Congress expanded this authority to allow foreign-based classification societies to perform similar tasks. Today, five foreign classification societies act as Agents of our government on behalf of the Coast Guard. Unfortunately, four of these foreign organizations also act as Agents of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the review and inspection of Iranian flagged vessels. These foreign-based classification societies also continue to have business interest with, and often operate within, other rogue nations and state sponsors of terrorism. I support the McCaul Amendment, which would close this loophole in our laws and send a clear message to foreign-based classification societies that you must choose to work with the United States or work with state sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran..."

2. Syria Hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

On 11/9/11 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs held a hearing entitled "U.S. Policy in Syria." Witnesses on the first panel were Jeffrey Feltman, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (testimony) and Luke Bronin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes (testimony). Written testimony was also provided by Andrew Tabler, Washington Institute of Near East Policy (testimony), and it seem that this report by Human Rights Watch and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies may also have been distributed.

Further reading:

Today's Zaman (Turkey) 11/10/11: US diplomat praises Turkish response to Syrian crisis
The Miami Herald 11/9/11: US lawmakers push to keep pressure on Syria's Assad
Bloomberg 11/9/11: U.S. Trying to Form Regional 'Contact Group' on Syria

3. Some additional aid to the Palestinians released by Ros-Lehtinen

This week it was reported that Rep. Ros-Lehtinen had released her hold on a portion of outstanding aid to the Palestinians (previously her office had declined to confirm details of any holds she had placed on such aid). It has now been confirmed that at some point in September, Ros-Lehtinen released her hold on $50 million in assistance for the PA Security Forces (in the form of Economic Support Funds for cash transfer). She subsequently (it appears at some point in October) released her hold on an additional $147 million in assistance for PA Security Forces (in the form of International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) non-lethal assistance. Both holds were reportedly released after demanding and receiving extensive assurances/documentation from the Department of State. Ros-Lehtinen continues to leave a hold on $192 million in Economic Support Funds for non-PA assistance (assistance for non-government organizations that is intended to help the Palestinian people). There has been no indication whether she intends to release this hold or what conditions she has placed on doing so.

Further reading:

JTA 11/8/11: Ros-Lehtinen releases security funds, holds humanitarian money
AFP 11/8/11: US lawmakers lift hold on aid to Palestinians
AP 11/7/11: GOP lawmaker ends hold on some US security aid to Palestinians
JPost 11/7/11: US releases hold on $200 million in PA security funds
YNet 11/7/11: US unfreezes $200M in security aid to PA

4. Odds and Ends

Members on the Record

Sen. Kirk (R-IL) 11/10/11: Iran's Nuclear Program (plug for his amendment for ForOps, discussed in Section 1, above - buried in consideration of the FY12 Energy and Water Development Approps bill)
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) 11/8/11: Ros-Lehtinen Says IAEA Report on Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program Means U.S. Must Act Quickly; Urges Passage of New Iran Sanctions Bills
Rep. Berman (D-CA) 11/8/11: Congressman Howard Berman Calls for Further Immediate International Sanctions on Iran in Wake of UN Nuclear Agency Revelations
Rep. Andrews (D-NJ) 11/4/11: The Threat of a Nuclear Iran
Sens. Kirk (R-IL) and Lieberman (R, I mean I-CT) 11/8/11: Discussing the recent IAEA report regarding Iran
Rep. Gohmert (R-TX) 11/4/11: rambling incomprehensibly (as usual) about a lot of stuff, including Libya, the "Arab Spring" and Iran, including plugging his resolution (H. Res. 271) supporting Israeli military action against Iran

Supreme Court and Congressional Efforts to Dictate Foreign Policy on Jerusalem

Haaretz 11/7/11: Why We Have Taken a Stand with the Supreme Court (APN op-ed - Hebrew)
(English translation of 11/7/11 APN op-ed in Haaretz here.)
JPost 11/10/11: US Supreme Court begins hearing Jerusalem passport case
NYT Editorial 11/10/11: Passport Control
Washington Post Editorial 11/9/11: Congress's unwelcome bid to settle a foreign policy question
JTA 11/8/11: Is Jerusalem in Israel? Supreme Court takes up passport case
Christian Science Monitor 11/7/11: How wrangle over Jerusalem is at the core of a US Supreme Court showdown
Haaretz 11/7/11: U.S. Supreme Court hears case to list 'Jerusalem, Israel' on foreign passports

Other Hill-related News

Washington Jewish Week 11/9/11: Will Israel attack Iran? (Sherman, D-CA, quoted)
Ynet 11/10/11: Iran's Nuclear Boomerang
JPost 11/9/11: 18 ex-senators issue plea to Obama: Free Pollard
The Cable 11/8/11: Fight over aid to Palestinian Authority heating up
The Cable 11/8/11: Obama administration to "study" Iran nuke report; bipartisan hawks urge decisive action
The Hill's Floor Action Blog 11/8/11: Lieberman: Military Force Against Iran must be Considered
The Hill's Floor Action Blog 11/8/11: Ros-Lehtinen says 'the clock is ticking' for Iran sanctions bills
National Post 11/8/11: U.S. lawmakers urge tough response to report on Iran's nuclear program
JPost 11/7/11: US releases hold on $200 million in PA security funds
The Cable 11/4/11: State Dept: We are trying to save Palestinian Authority aid funding

Check the APN blog for breaking news and analysis about issues related to Israel, the Middle East, and the Hill.
Past editions of the Round-Up are archived and available online.
For more information, contact Lara Friedman, APN Director of Policy and Government Relations.