Note to readers: Due to various events (the Susan G. Komen walk to end breast cancer, the Rosh Hashana holiday, and a conference this week), this Friday will be the third consecutive Friday on which it is not possible for APN to publish a Round-Up. This mid-week edition covers the missed weeks and this week, through today. The Round-Up will resume regular publication in the coming weeks.
1. Bills, Resolutions and Letters
2. Congress Blocking Aid to the Palestinians
3. Senate FY12 ForOps
4. APN files Amicus Brief supporting Obama Admin on Jerusalem
5. Odds and Ends
1. Bills, Resolutions and Letters
(Jerusalem) S. 1622: Introduced 9/23/11 by Sen. Heller (R-NV) and 3 cosponsors, the "Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act of 2011." The bill would strip away the presidential waiver authority contained in the Jerusalem Embassy Act, forcing the President to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem immediately. It would also compel Jerusalem to be listed as the capital of Israel in all U.S. government documents listing countries and their capitals. In addition, it would without a portion of State Department annual funding until the U.S. embassy is official opened in Jerusalem. Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
(Cut UN Funding if Palestinian Status Upgraded) S. 1595: Introduced 9/21/11 by Sen. Hatch (R-UT) and currently having 18 cosponsors, the "Solidarity with Israel Act." The bill would cut off all funds to the UN if the Security Council or the General Assembly in any way changes the status of the Palestinians at the UN "before the Secretary of State certifies to Congress that a comprehensive peace agreement has been reached with the sovereign state of Israel." Referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
(FY12 ForOps) S. 1601: On 9/22/11 Senate Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chairman Leahy (D-VT) introduced S. 1601, the FY12 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. The bill was reported out of the Appropriations committee that same day, clearing the way for consideration on the Senate floor. For Middle East-related details of S. 1601, see Section 3, below. For details of the House version of this bill, see the 7/29/11 edition of the Round-Up.
(FY12 State Authorization) HR 2583: See the 7/22/11 and 7/29/11 editions of the Round-Up for details/analysis of this bill. On 9/23/11 the bill was reported out of committee, paving the way for consideration on the House floor.
(IRAN Sanctions) HR 2998: Introduced 9/21/11 by Rep. McCaul (R-TX) and having 5 cosponsors, the "Ethical Shipping Inspections Act of 2011." The bill text states: "To amend title 46, United States Code, to prohibit the delegation by the United States of inspection, certification, and related services to a foreign classification society that provides comparable services to Iran, North Korea, North Sudan, or Syria and for other purposes."
(IRAN, SYRIA, ETC) HR 3075: Introduced 10/3/11 by Rep. Broun (R-GA) and no cosponsors, the "Limiting the Intrusive Miles of International Terrorist Sponsors Act of 2011." The bill seeks to limit delegates and representatives from Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria, and other state sponsors of terrorism who visit the United States for UN business to an area "not greater than one-half of one mile (0.5 miles) in any direction on the island of Manhattan from the United Nations headquarters complex, but does not include any waterway."
(Senate Letter to Obama) Support Israel at the UN: On 9/19/11 14 U.S. Senators sent President Obama a letter calling on him to issue "a strongly worded defense of Israel" during his upcoming address to the UN General Assembly. Press release and full text of the letter here.
(Senate Letter to Obama) Stop Turkey Anti-Israel Offensive: On 9/19/11 a group of Senators wrote to President Obama in advance of his meeting at the UN with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, urging the president to "send a strong message to Turkey that United States is fully committed to the security of the State of Israel." The letter asks the president to "mount a diplomatic offensive to reverse" Turkish anti-Israel behavior." It also asks him to outline to Erdogan Turkey's "eroding support in Congress" and how "current ill-advised policy toward the State of Israel will also negatively reflect on U.S.-Turkish relations and Turkey's role in the future of NATO." Press release and text of the letter here. For reporting/analysis on this, see this report in the Cable.
2. Congress Blocking Aid to the Palestinians
APN strongly opposes punitive actions by Congress or the Obama Administration against the Palestinians for their appeal to the UN. On 9/21/11 APN issued a statement on the issue and a call to Congress: Support peace, not punishment.
Unfortunately, Congress seems determined (so far) to exact a price from the Palestinians, as discussed below:
This past weekend there were press reports (original story in the Independent, with further reporting in the Israeli press) that Congress was blocking $200 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA). As is often the case when it comes to the rather arcane world of Congress and appropriations, the press reports were partly correct and partly incorrect, and also missed some rather important points.
- U.S. direct assistance to the PA for FY2011, which amounted to $200 million, is already out the door. Congress can't do anything to block funding that has already been spent, although some members of Congress are threatening to cut off this funding in 2012 to punish the Palestinian Authority for going to the UN.
- Congress is blocking $192 million in funds for U.S. humanitarian programs for Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza. This funding is being blocked by Republicans on two House committees: the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Appropriations Committee's Foreign Operations Subcommittee. These funds are for programs funded through USAID and carried out by non-governmental organizations. It should be emphasized that the West Bank/Gaza assistance program is completely distinct from U.S. aid to the PA. U.S. humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people has long been kept hermetically sealed off from PA aid - specifically to enable it to continue, even, for example, when concerns over corruption led Congress to prohibit all aid to the PA (a prohibition that still is law today, but a law that the President has the authority to waive, with conditions), and even after Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections. The U.S. program for the West Bank and Gaza, it should be emphasized, is probably the most congressionally restricted, conditioned, vetted and overseen U.S. assistance program in the world - all to ensure that not a dollar benefits the PA and that not a dollar serves any purpose but to address humanitarian concerns and promote U.S. policy objectives.
- Congress is also blocking $150 million in funding for security assistance to the PA (aid that comes under the title of "international narcotics control and law enforcement programs - INCLE"). This block - which so far has not been reported in the media - does target the PA and will be very problematic for the PA. These funds are being blocked by Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and possibly also by the House Foreign Affairs Committee (this could not be confirmed as of this writing). Some members of Congress have also threatened to cut these funds in 2012 to punish the Palestinian Authority for going to the UN.
The press has not been clear on how Congress is blocking funds that have been previously approved, so to clarify: Congress keeps a very tight hold on the purse strings when it comes to foreign aid in general, and assistance for the Palestinians and the PA in particular. One way it does this is by (as part of the law providing the funds) requiring the Administration to notify/consult with relevant committees (House and Senate) before actually spending money. The relevant committees are the committees with jurisdiction over foreign assistance - the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Foreign Operations Subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. As part of this notification process, a committee member or members can place a hold on a given expenditure - in theory in order to get more information/justification from the Administration.
That is what is happening here with the holds on the $192 million for USAID funding for the Palestinians, and the hold on the $150 million for security assistance - although of course while some members might legitimately want more information (including information about how USAID might be adapting to new circumstances that could be relevant to a these aid programs), for others this could easily be a handy pretext for just blocking the funding for political reasons.
What this all means
The fact that Congress is blocking the $192 million in USAID funding is quite important - not because it indicates that Congress is trying to squeeze the PA (though the previously unreported blocking of the $150 million in security assistance clearly does indicate this and will absolutely have that effect), but because it discloses a lot about the current atmosphere on the Hill, with important ramifications for U.S. assistance to both the PA and the Palestinians.
- The narrative that says that "the-Palestinians'-decision-to-go-to-the-UN-is-a-form-of-diplomatic-terrorism-that-cannot-go-unpunished", cultivated for months by AIPAC, Israeli diplomats, and most of the American Jewish and right-wing Christian community, has firmly taken root.
- The over-arching logic on the Hill these days - on both sides of the aisle - is that the race is on to find things to cut, and foreign assistance is always an attractive target, since it has no domestic constituency to protect it (except of course for aid to Israel, which in any case is provided in a lump sum at the beginning of the fiscal year, so nobody in Congress could threaten this aid, even if they wanted to and didn't care that it would be politically suicidal to do so).
- These two trends are combining to create a situation in which pretty much every program that is in any way related to the Palestinians, including both programs that are strictly humanitarian in nature and those that keep the PA going, has a huge target painted on it. This also includes Palestinian-related programs at the United Nations, which are in the cross-hairs of the House (for details of House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen's bill targeting the UN in general and Palestinian programs at the UN in particular, see my analysis here. That bill is due to be marked up in committee later this month).
- Absent an energized and public effort to protect these funds - not by progressive forces on the left, but by the same parties that have spent the past months convincing members of Congress (AIPAC et al) that they can earn huge political capital attacking by aid to the Palestinians - this aid has and inevitably will continue to come under attack (for more on this, see my recent piece in the Huffington Post: Lesson to the "Pro-Israel" Right: Be Careful What You Ask From Congress).
3. Senate FY12 ForOps
On 9/22/11 Senate Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chairman Leahy (D-VT)
introduced S. 1601, the FY12 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations
bill. The bill was reported out of the Appropriations committee that
same day, clearing the way for consideration on the Senate floor.
The House version of the bill was covered in detail in the
edition of the Round-Up.
The Middle East-related details of the Senate bill are as follows:
TITLE I - The Department of State and Related Agencies
International Broadcasting Operations
Bill Text: "For necessary expenses to enable the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), as authorized, to carry out international communication activities, and to make and supervise grants for radio and television broadcasting to the Middle East, $740,039,000"
Center for Middle Eastern-Western Dialogue
Bill text: "For necessary expenses of the Center for Middle Eastern-Western Dialogue Trust Fund, as authorized by section 633 of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2004 (22 U.S.C. 2078), the total amount of the interest and earnings accruing to such Fund on or before September 30, 2012, to remain available until expended."
Israeli Arab Scholarship Program
Bill text: "For necessary expenses of the Israeli Arab Scholarship Program, as authorized by section 214 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993 (22 U.S.C. 2452), all interest and earnings accruing to the Israeli Arab Scholarship Fund on or before September 30, 2012, to remain available until expended."
TITLE III - BILATERAL ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE
The report language accompanying the bill goes into great detail on funding for Yemen:
"The Committee recommends $115,000,000 for assistance for Yemen, and remains concerned with instability and extremism in that country. The Committee notes increasing costs associated with programs in Yemen over the past several fiscal years, and requests the Department of State to coordinate activities with neighboring countries and other international donors to ensure the risks and costs associated with this failed state are not borne by the United States alone." The funds are split between Global Health Programs, Economic Support Funds, International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement, Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related Programs, International Military Education and Training, and Foreign Military Financing. The funding is also split between regular funding and ongoing contingency operations funding.
Economic Support Funds (ESF)
Report language: The report accompanying the bill lays out the following ESF country levels for the Near East:
Marla Ruzicka Fund (non-add): $5,000,000
MERC : $5,000,000
Middle East/North Africa Transition Fund: $50,000,000
Overseas Contingency Operations: $50,000,000
Near East Regional Democracy: $35,000,000
Internet Freedom (non-add): $25,000,000
Overseas Contingency Operations: $47,000,000
West Bank and Gaza: $400,400,000
EGYPT: Bill text: "up to $250,000,000 shall be available for assistance for Egypt, which shall be for programs and activities (including to implement sections 7039(a)(3) and (b) of this Act) to reduce poverty and create jobs, strengthen democracy, and protect human rights, including not less than $35,000,000 for education programs of which not less than $10,000,000 is for scholarships at not-for-profit institutions for Egyptian students with high financial need".
Report language: "The Committee recommends up to $250,000,000 for assistance for Egypt, including for programs to promote democracy and protect human rights. The Committee restricts assistance to the central Government of Egypt unless the Secretary of State certifies that the government is meeting certain conditions, including its obligations under the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. This requirement also includes a national interest waiver. The Committee also authorizes up to $500,000,000 of current and prior fiscal year funds to provide debt relief and funds to establish an enterprise fund for Egypt. The Committee is aware that the administration intends to use $50,000,000 in fiscal year 2012 funding for debt relief, but notes that subject to reprogramming notification requirements use of additional funds could be considered. The Committee expects that should Egypt be in material breach of its obligations under the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, debt relief and enterprise fund programs, if initiated, should be suspended. The Committee remains concerned with the deterioration of security in the Sinai, including the use of the territory for attacks against Israel and gas lines by terrorists, and the use of illicit tunnels to smuggle weapons into Gaza. Funds appropriated by this act should be used to support and increase efforts of the Government of Egypt to mitigate these threats. Funds should also be used to increase participation and oversight by civil society in Egyptian elections, including by NGOs."
LEBANON: Bill text: "$12,000,000 of the funds made available for assistance for Lebanon under this heading shall be for scholarships at not-for-profit institutions for students in Lebanon with high financial need".
Report language: "The Committee recommends $12,000,000 for scholarships for students in Lebanon with high financial need to attend not-for-profit educational institutions in Lebanon that meet standards comparable to those required for American accreditation. The institutions, students and their families are encouraged to meet as much of the cost of the education as possible in order to share the commitment to the future of Lebanon, to maximize the number of students who are assisted, and to minimize the cost per student to the American taxpayer. All students should be eligible for scholarships based on need, academic record, and potential to contribute to the long-term political, economic, and social development of Lebanon. The Committee recommends $500,000 for continued support for USFS forest and biodiversity conservation programs in Lebanon."
JORDAN: Bill text: "not less than $360,000,000 shall be available for assistance for Jordan, including for programs and activities to reduce poverty and create jobs, strengthen democracy, and protect human rights".
TUNISIA: Bill text: "up to $30,000,000 of the funds appropriated for fiscal year 2011 under this heading in Public Law 112-10, division B, may be made available for the costs, as defined in section 502 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, of loan guarantees for Tunisia, which are authorized to be provided: Provided further, That amounts that are made available under the previous proviso for the cost of guarantees shall not be considered `assistance' for the purposes of provisions of law limiting assistance to a country".
Report language: "The Committee recommends $5,000,000 for democracy and governance programs in Tunisia, and to protect human rights. The Committee also recommends funding for the cost of loan guarantees as authorized by section 635 of the FAA."
PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY: Bill text: "none of the funds appropriated under this heading may be made available for the Palestinian Authority if Palestine becomes a member or non-member state of the United Nations outside of an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians: Provided further, That the Secretary may waive the previous proviso if the Secretary certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that to do so is in the national security interests of the United States".
West Bank and Gaza: Report language: "The Committee continues restrictions in current law on assistance for the West Bank and Gaza, and adds a new limitation, with waiver authority, if Palestine becomes a member or non-member state of the United Nations outside of a negotiated agreement with Israel. The Committee clarifies restrictions on Hamas in section 7038(f). The Committee also recognizes the importance of security sector assistance and requests to be consulted prior to exercising existing notwithstanding authorities. The Committee directs GAO to submit a report assessing (1) the ability of the Palestinian Authority to assume responsibility for any of the programs and activities conducted by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency in the West Bank; (2) actions required by the Palestinian Authority in order to assume such responsibility; and (3) the opinion of the Department of State and relevant ministries of the Government of Israel, including the Ministry of Defense, on the viability of transitioning such programs and activities from UNRWA to the Palestinian Authority."
IRAN: Report language: "The Committee supports the continuation of programs to promote democracy and human rights in Iran."
Middle East/North Africa Transition Fund: Report language: "The Committee recognizes that dynamic events in the Middle East and North Africa regions create significant programmatic and bureaucratic challenges in responding to unanticipated political crises. The Committee recommends $50,000,000 for a new transition fund to provide the Department of State and USAID with the flexibility necessary to respond quickly to such events. The Secretary of State and USAID Administrator are directed to consult with the Committee prior to obligating funds."
Middle East Partnership Initiative: Report language: "The Committee recommends $70,000,000 for regional programs traditionally managed by MEPI, including to continue scholarships for students from countries with significant Muslim populations at not-for-profit educational institutions that meet standards comparable to those required for American accreditation in those countries. These funds are to be awarded through an open and competitive process. The Secretary of State is directed to report to the Committee on coordination with other offices in the Department of State responsible for funding similar programs."
Middle East Regional Cooperation Program: Report language: "The Committee recommends up to $5,000,000 for continued support for the MERC."
Reconciliation Programs: Report language: "The Committee recommends a total of $26,000,000 for reconciliation programs and activities which bring together and facilitate direct communication between individuals of different ethnic, religious and political backgrounds in countries affected by civil strife and war, of which $10,000,000 is for such programs and activities in the Middle East region..."
Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA)
Bill text: "$20,000,000 shall be made available for refugees resettling in Israel".
Report language: "The Committee recommends $20,000,000 for refugee resettlement in Israel, to be awarded through an open and competitive process."
TITLE IV - INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE
IAEA: Bill text: "funds appropriated under this heading may be made available for the IAEA unless the Secretary of State determines that Israel is being denied its right to participate in the activities of that Agency." (perennial language)
INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS CONTROL AND LAW ENFORCEMENT (INCLE): Report language: The report includes a table earmarking $113,000,000 for the West Bank/Gaza, and $11,000,000 for Yemen.
PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS (PKO): The report notes that "the Committee recommends $28,000,000 for the MFO, which is an increase of $2,000,000 above the budget request. The Committee understands that the MFO will require increases in its operating budget in subsequent fiscal years, and expects the MFO to account for and apply funds in a manner such that the principle of equality of contributions to the basic operating budget between the United States, Egypt, and Israel shall be maintained."
Foreign Military Financing (FMF) - total for the entire program: $5,374,230,000
The table in the report language accompanying the bill lays out FMF levels for the Near East as follows:
ISRAEL: Bill text (all perennial language):
- "not less than $3,075,000,000 shall be available for grants only for Israel";
- "funds appropriated under this heading for assistance for Israel shall be disbursed within 30 days of enactment of this Act";
- "to the extent that the Government of Israel requests that funds be used for such purposes, grants made available for Israel under this heading shall, as agreed by the United States and Israel, be available for advanced weapons systems, of which not less than $808,725,000 shall be available for the procurement in Israel of defense articles and defense services, including research and development".
EGYPT: Bill text:
- "up to $1,300,000,000 shall be made available for grants only for Egypt, including for border security programs and activities in the Sinai"
- "prior to the obligation of funds appropriated under this heading for assistance for Egypt, the Secretary of State shall certify to the Committees on Appropriations that the Governments of the United States and Egypt have agreed upon the specific uses of such funds, that such funds further the national interests of the United States in Egypt and the region, and that the Government of Egypt has held free and fair elections and is implementing policies to protect the rights of journalists, due process, and freedoms of expression and association"
- "funds appropriated under this heading estimated to be outlayed for Egypt during fiscal year 2012 may be transferred to an interest bearing account for Egypt in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York within 30 days of enactment of this Act".
Report language: "The Committee includes language requiring the Secretary of State to certify, prior to the initial obligation of funds under this heading, that the Governments of the United States and Egypt have agreed on the uses of funds and that such funds further the national interests of both countries, and the Government of Egypt has held free and fair elections and is implementing policies to protect due process and freedoms of expression and association. The Committee also includes, in section 7039(a)(1), the authority to transfer funds appropriated under the FMF heading to ESF for assistance for Egypt."
JORDAN: Bill text: "$300,000,000 shall be made available for assistance for Jordan".
LEBANON: Report language: "The Committee recommends $100,000,000 for assistance for Lebanon and recognizes the need for the Lebanese Armed Forces to contribute to stability in Southern Lebanon in cooperation with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. The funds are subject to certain conditions."
MOROCCO: Report language: "The Committee requires that of the funds made available for Morocco under this heading, $1,000,000 be withheld from obligation until the Secretary of State submits a report to the Committee detailing steps taken by the Government of Morocco to respect the rights of individuals to peacefully express their opinions regarding the status and future of Western Sahara and to provide unimpeded access to human rights organizations, journalists and others to the Western Sahara."
TITLE VII - GENERAL PROVISIONS
Sec. 7007: Prohibition Against Direct Funding for Certain Countries
This is perennial bill language banning aid to Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Syria, extending to loans, credits, insurance, and guarantees of the Export-Import Bank or its agents.
Sec. 7013: Prohibition on Taxation of United States Assistance
This is a perennial provision barring taxation of U.S. assistance. While this provision appears generic the only recipient explicitly identified is the West Bank and Gaza. This reflects the genesis of the provision - the allegation in a previous year that the Palestinian Authority (PA) was taxing U.S. assistance provided to NGOs (and recall that under existing law direct aid to the PA is prohibited), thereby indirectly benefiting from US assistance designed specifically to bypass the PA.
Sec. 7021: prohibition on assistance to governments supporting international terrorism
Bill language combining two perennial bans - one on aid to governments that export lethal military equipment to countries supporting international terrorism, and one on aid to any country which the President determines grants sanctuary to any individual or group that has committed an act of international terrorism, or any country that the President determines otherwise supports international terrorism. Both sections include clean national security waivers for the President.
Sec. 7034(b): Waiver (of longstanding ban on PLO activity in the U.S)
Every year the ForOps bill includes a provision, buried in this section (which is a grab-bag entitled "Special Provisions"), providing the President the authority to waive a piece of anti-Palestinian legislation that dates back to 1988 and is still on the books (Members of Congress never use up political capital repealing anti-Palestinian legislation). This provision has not been covered in the Round-Up in the past, for the simple reason that drawing attention to it seemed likely to spark efforts by anti-peace forces to remove or undermine it (the fact is, until now very few people knew the waiver exists or where it lived). This year's bill contains exactly such an effort.
The anti-Palestinian legislation in question is Section 1003 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, fiscal years 1988 and 1989 (22 U.S.C. 5202). It dates back to the earliest days of the peace process, when Congress was actively trying to block Administration moves to seriously engage - for the first time - the Palestinians. That section of law reads as follows:
§ 5202. Prohibitions regarding PLO
It shall be unlawful, if the purpose be to further the interests of the Palestine Liberation Organization or any of its constituent groups, any successor to any of those, or any agents thereof, on or after the effective date of this chapter -
(1) to receive anything of value except informational material from the PLO or any of its constituent groups, any successor thereto, or any agents thereof;
(2) to expend funds from the PLO or any of its constituent groups, any successor thereto, or any agents thereof; or
(3) notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, to establish or maintain an office headquarters, premises, or other facilities or establishments within the jurisdiction of the United States at the behest or direction of, or with funds provided by the Palestine Liberation Organization or any of its constituent groups, any successor to any of those, or any agents thereof.
When the peace process got going in the early 1990s (backed by Israel), Congress eventually acted to provide the president the necessary authority to suspend this and other anti-Palestinian legislation, through a piece of legislation known as the Middle East Peace Facilitation Act (Public Law 104-107, Title VI).
In 1997, with Congress' enthusiasm for the peace process waning, Congress decided to let MEPFA expire. However, Congress at that time still apparently recognized the importance to U.S. national security interests of having official Palestinian interlocutors in Washington, and starting in 1997, Congress quietly began a perennial exercise of including a provision in the ForOps bill giving the president the (unconditioned, unencumbered) authority to waive, for reasons of U.S. national security interests, the piece of law cited above. That waiver has continued unchallenged since 1997 - including after the collapse of Camp David and during the post-Camp David "there is no partner for peace" era. Until now.
In the House version of the FY12 ForOps bill, the previously "clean" national security waiver of the anti-PLO law is conditioned on additional requirements being met (requirements that almost certainly cannot be met). The Senate version of the FY12 ForOps bill preserves the "clean national security waiver but adds the following language, which implies a readiness to close the PLO office in Washington:
"Not later than 30 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations specific recommendations on appropriate actions to be taken with respect to the Palestine Liberation Organization's status in the United States, especially about the closing of its office, if Palestine seeks to become a member or non-member state of the United Nations outside an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians."
Sec. 7033: Arab League Boycott of Israel
Perennial bill language expressing the Sense of the Congress opposing the Arab League Boycott of Israel, and articulating what Arab League states and the U.S. should be doing to end the boycott.
Sec. 7034: Palestinian Statehood
Perennial bill language stipulating that no funds appropriated in this Act may be used to support a Palestinian state unless the Secretary of State certifies the state has met a list of requirements related to fighting terror, democratic reform, and commitment to peace. As in the previous year, the President is granted the authority to waive these requirements for reasons of national security. This section is a relic of history, reflecting a time when Congress was obsessed with the threat of Yasser Arafat unilaterally declaring a Palestinian State. The section is somewhat ironic today. Conditions in this bill on ESF (discussed above) essentially bar any aid to the PA is granted enhanced status at the UN (with a waiver), while this pre-existing section permits aid to a unilaterally established state if specific conditions are met or for reasons of national security. All of which is a demonstration of the extent to which the ForOps bill, when it comes to the Palestinians, is something of an exercise in piling on conditions to satisfy the latest anti-Palestinian fad in Congress.
Sec. 7035: Restrictions Concerning the Palestinian Authority
Perennial bill language stipulating that no funds appropriated in this Act may be used to create any new U.S. government office in Jerusalem to conduct business with the Palestinian Authority or any successor Palestinian governing entity. This language dates back to the early days of the Oslo process when there were concerns that governments might open embassies to Palestine in East Jerusalem (something that has not happened).
Sec. 7036: Prohibition on Assistance to the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation
Perennial bill language stipulating that no funds appropriated in this Act may be used to assist the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation. Like many Palestinian-related provisions in this bill, this section dates back to the early 1990s and Congressional outrage at the time over PBC programming.
Sec. 7037: Assistance for the West Bank and Gaza
This is the perennial provision setting out the extensive conditions and restrictions on, and vetting, reporting and audit requirements for, the West Bank and Gaza program (requirements that seem to expand every year).
Sec. 7038: Limitation on Assistance to the Palestinian Authority.
Part (a) of this perennial section - which is in addition to the new prohibition on aid to the PA included in Title III of the bill if it achieves enhances status at the UN (with a waiver) - bars any aid to the PA, period.
Part (b) provides the president a "clean" national security waiver of the ban. Parts (c), (d), and (e) lay out the extensive conditions the President must fulfill if he decides to use the waiver.
Part (f) of this section deals with Hamas and the PLO:
"(1) None of the funds appropriated in titles III through VI of this Act may be obligated for salaries of personnel of the Palestinian Authority located in Gaza or may be obligated or expended for assistance to Hamas or any entity effectively controlled by Hamas, any power-sharing government of which Hamas is a member, or a government over which Hamas exercises undue influence.
"(2) Notwithstanding the limitation of subsection (1), assistance may be provided to a power-sharing government only if the President certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that such government, including all of its ministers or such equivalent, has publicly accepted and is complying with the principles contained in section 620K(b)(1)(A) and (B) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended.
"(3) The President may exercise the authority in section 620K(e) of the Foreign Assistance Act as added by the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-446) with respect to this subsection."
This formulation is consistent with previous law and NOT the same as the House version, which also bars aid to any power-sharing government that is approved by Hamas (essentially closing the door on a consensus government of technocrats).
Finally, the last paragraph of this section reiterates the longstanding U.S. ban on any aid to the PLO (this is in addition to the changes in the waiver, described above, that would result in the PLO being kicked out of the U.S.).
For the sake of completeness, Section 620K(b)(1)(A) and (B) of the Foreign Assistance 19 Act of 1961, as amended, reads as follows:
(b) Certification.--A certification described in subsection (a) is a certification transmitted by the President to Congress that contains a determination of the President that--
(1) no ministry, agency, or instrumentality of the Palestinian Authority is effectively controlled by Hamas, unless the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority has--
(A) publicly acknowledged the Jewish state of Israel's right to exist; and
(B) committed itself and is adhering to all previous agreements and understandings with the United States Government, with the Government of Israel, and with the international community, including agreements and understandings pursuant to the Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (commonly referred to as the `Roadmap').
And 620K(e) reads as follows:
(e) National Security Waiver.--
(1) In general.--Subject to paragraph (2), the President may waive subsection (a) with respect to--
(A) the administrative and personal security costs of the Office of the President of the Palestinian Authority;
(B) the activities of the President of the Palestinian Authority to fulfill his or her duties as President, including to maintain control of the management and security of border crossings, to foster the Middle East peace process, and to promote democracy and the rule of law; and
(C) assistance for the judiciary branch of the Palestinian Authority and other entities.
(2) Certification.--The President may only exercise the waiver authority under paragraph (1) after--
(A) consulting with, and submitting a written policy justification to, the appropriate congressional committees; and
(B) certifying to the appropriate congressional committees that--
(i) it is in the national security interest of the United States to provide assistance
otherwise prohibited under subsection (a); and
(ii) the individual or entity for which assistance is proposed to be provided is not a
member of, or effectively controlled by (as the case may be), Hamas or any other
foreign terrorist organization.
(3) Report.-Not later than 10 days after exercising the waiver authority under paragraph (1), the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report describing how the funds provided pursuant to such waiver will be spent and detailing the accounting procedures that are in place to ensure proper oversight and accountability.
(4) Treatment of certification as notification of program change.--For purposes of this subsection, the certification required under paragraph (2)(B) shall be deemed to be a notification under section 634A and shall be considered in accordance with the procedures applicable to notifications submitted pursuant to that section.
Sec. 7042: Near East
This section includes earmarks and conditions on aid to a number of Middle East countries - in addition to conditions included previously in the bill, as follows:
---- Sec. 7039
Bill language: "(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, funds appropriated by this Act under the heading `Foreign Military Financing Program' for assistance for Egypt may be transferred to, and merged with, funds appropriated for assistance for Egypt under the heading `Economic Support Fund': Provided, That such transfer may only be made following consultation with, and subject to the regular notification procedures of, the Committees on Appropriations.
"(2)(A) None of the funds appropriated by this Act may be made available for assistance for the central Government of Egypt unless the Secretary of State certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that such government is meeting its obligations under the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.
"(B) The Secretary of State may waive paragraph (2)(A) if the Secretary determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that to do so is important to the national interests of the United States: Provided, That any such determination and report shall include a detailed justification for such waiver.
"(3)(A) Funds appropriated under the heading `Economic Support Fund' in this and prior Acts (including previously obligated funds), may be made available, notwithstanding any other provision of law, for an Egypt initiative, particularly for the specific costs referred to in the authorities referenced herein, for the purpose of improving the lives of the Egyptian people through education, investment in jobs and skills (including secondary and vocational education), and access to finance for small and medium enterprise with emphasis on expanding opportunities for women, as well as other appropriate market-reform and economic growth activities: Provided, That the provisions of title VI of Public Law 103-306 pertaining to funds for Jordan shall be deemed to apply to any such initiative and to funds available under this section to carry out such an initiative in the same manner as such cited provisions apply to Jordan, subject to the following provisos: Provided further, That subparagraph (b)(2) shall be deemed not to apply and the amount made available pursuant to this section as set forth in the report accompanying this Act and incorporated herein shall be deemed to apply in lieu of the figure in subparagraph (b)(1): Provided further, That the authority to reduce debt shall include authority to exchange an outstanding obligation for a new obligation and to permit both principal and interest payments on new obligations to be deposited into a fund established for such purpose, to be used in accordance with purposes set forth in an agreement between the United States and Egypt: Provided further, That the authority of this paragraph shall only be made available after the Secretary of State certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of Egypt has held free and fair elections and is implementing policies to protect the rights of journalists, due process, and freedoms of expression and association."
(b) Enterprise Funds-
Bill language: "Up to $60,000,000 of funds appropriated under the heading `Economic Support Fund' in this Act and prior acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs (and including previously obligated funds), that are available for assistance for Egypt, up to $20,000,000 of such funds that are available for assistance for Tunisia, up to $60,000,000 of such funds that are available for assistance for Pakistan, and up to $60,000,000 of such funds that are available for assistance for Jordan, respectively, may be made available notwithstanding any other provision of law, to establish and operate one or more enterprise funds for Egypt, Tunisia, Pakistan, and Jordan, respectively..."
Bill language: (1) It is the policy of the United States to seek to prevent Iran from achieving the capability to produce or otherwise manufacture nuclear weapons, including by supporting international diplomatic efforts to halt Iran's uranium enrichment program, and the President should fully implement and enforce the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996, as amended (Public Law 104-172) as a means of encouraging foreign governments to require state-owned and private entities to cease all investment in, and support of, Iran's energy sector and all exports of refined petroleum products to Iran.
(2) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this Act under the heading `Export-Import Bank of the United States' may be used by the Export-Import Bank of the United States to provide any new financing (including loans, guarantees, other credits, insurance, and reinsurance) to any person that is subject to sanctions under paragraph (2) or (3) of section 5(a) of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-172).
(3) The reporting requirements in section 7043(c) in division F of Public Law 111-117 shall continue in effect during fiscal year 2012 as if part of this Act: Provided, That the date in subsecton (c)(1) shall be deemed to be `September 31, 2012'.
Bill language: "(1) None of the funds appropriated by this Act may be made available for assistance for the Government of Lebanon if such government is controlled by a foreign terrorist organization.
"(2) Funds appropriated under the heading `Foreign Military Financing Program' in this Act for assistance for Lebanon may be made available only to professionalize the Lebanese Armed Forces and to strengthen border security and combat terrorism, including training and equipping the Lebanese Armed Forces to secure Lebanon's borders, interdicting arms shipments, preventing the use of Lebanon as a safe haven for terrorist groups, and to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701: Provided, That funds may not be made available for obligation until the Secretary of State provides the Committees on Appropriations a detailed spending plan: Provided further, That such plan shall not be considered as meeting the notification requirements under section 7015 of this Act or under section 634A of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961."
Bill language: "(1) Of the funds appropriated by this Act under the heading `Economic Support Fund', not less than $20,000,000 should be made available to promote democracy, transparent and accountable governance, human rights, transitional justice, and the rule of law in Libya, and for exchange programs between Libyan and American students: Provided, That such funds shall be made available, to the maximum extent practicable, on a cost matching basis.
"(2) None of the funds appropriated by this Act may be made available for assistance for Libya for the rehabilitation or reconstruction of infrastructure except on a loan basis with terms favorable to the United States, and only following consultation with the Committees on Appropriations."
Bill language: "Of the funds appropriated by this Act under the heading `Foreign Military Financing Program' for assistance for Morocco, $1,000,000 shall be withheld from obligation until the Secretary of State submits a report to the Committees on Appropriations on steps being taken by the Government of Morocco to--
(1) respect the right of individuals to peacefully express their opinions regarding the status and future of the Western Sahara and to document violations of human rights; and
(2) provide unimpeded access to human rights organizations, journalists, and representatives of foreign governments to the Western Sahara."
Bill language: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, funds appropriated by this Act shall be made available to promote democracy and protect human rights in Syria: Provided, That a portion of such funds should be programmed in coordination with the Government of Turkey and other governments in the region, as appropriate."
Sec. 7048. Restrictions on United Nations Delegations
Bill language: "None of the funds made available under title I of this Act may be used to pay expenses for any United States delegation to any specialized agency, body, or commission of the United Nations if such commission is chaired or presided over by a country, the government of which the Secretary of State has determined, for purposes of section 6(j)(1) of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (50 U.S.C. App. 2405(j)(1)), supports international terrorism."
Sec. 7050: Landmines and Cluster munitions
Bill language: "(a) Landmines- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, demining equipment available to the United States Agency for International Development and the Department of State and used in support of the clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance for humanitarian purposes may be disposed of on a grant basis in foreign countries, subject to such terms and conditions as the Secretary of State may prescribe.
"(b) Cluster Munitions- No military assistance shall be furnished for cluster munitions, no defense export license for cluster munitions may be issued, and no cluster munitions or cluster munitions technology shall be sold or transferred, unless--
"(1) the submunitions of the cluster munitions, after arming, do not result in more than 1 percent unexploded ordnance across the range of intended operational environments; and
"(2) the agreement applicable to the assistance, transfer, or sale of such cluster munitions or cluster munitions technology specifies that the cluster munitions will only be used against clearly defined military targets and will not be used where civilians are known to be present or in areas normally inhabited by civilians."
Sec. 7058: Reconciliation Programs
Bill language: "Of the funds appropriated by title III of this Act under the headings `Economic Support Fund' and `Development Assistance', $26,000,000 shall be made available to support people to people reconciliation programs which bring together individuals of different ethnic, religious and political backgrounds from areas of civil strife and war, of which $10,000,000 shall be made available for such programs in the Middle East: Provided, That the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development shall consult with the Committees on Appropriations, prior to the initial obligation of funds, on the uses of such funds."
Sec. 7059: Requests for Documents
Bill language: "None of the funds appropriated or made available pursuant to titles III through VI of this Act shall be available to a nongovernmental organization, including any contractor, which fails to provide upon timely request any document, file, or record necessary to the auditing requirements of the United States Agency for International Development."
Sec. 7071: Commercial Leasing of Defense Articles
This perennial provision permits financing to be provided to Israel, Egypt and NATO and major non-NATO allies for the procurement by leasing (including leasing with an option to purchase) of defense articles from United States commercial suppliers, if the President determines that there are compelling foreign policy or national security reasons for those defense articles being provided by commercial lease rather than by government-to-government sale.
4. APN files Amicus Brief supporting Obama Admin on Jerusalem
For years Congress has tried to force a change in U.S. policy on Jerusalem. This has included legislation to force the transfer of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and laws compelling the State Department to recognize Israel as Jerusalem's capital in passports and reports of birth. Every administration, Democratic and Republican, has viewed these efforts as infringing on the Executive's foreign policy prerogative and has either vetoed such legislation or declared it unconstitutional. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case brought by parents of an American citizen child born in Jerusalem, who are suing the State Department to force it to record the child place of birth as Israel. A large number of Jewish organizations have joined an amicus brief in support of the petitioners. APN disagrees with them and with the plaintiffs, and views this issue as serious enough that it required us to also weigh in with the Court with a different perspective.
APN Press release 10/4/11: APN Files Amicus Brief Supporting Obama Administration on Jerusalem
Americans for Peace Now (APN) has filed an amicus brief calling on the Supreme Court to uphold the Executive Branch's sole prerogative to determine U.S. foreign policy related to the recognition of sovereignty in Jerusalem. The brief specifically addresses the way in which the U.S. Department of State records the birthplace of American citizens born in Jerusalem in documents issued by the U.S. government.
APN filed the brief last week in the case of Zivotofsky v. Clinton, which
the Court has agreed to hear later this year. APN's Friend of the Court
brief supports the position of the Obama administration, a position taken by
all U.S. presidents, Republicans and Democrats, since the establishment of
the state of Israel.
APN's amicus brief makes clear that this case is not merely about how a certain subset of Americans has their birthplace recorded in U.S. government-issued documents, nor is it about a simple administrative question regarding what branch of government has authority over matters related to the issuance of passports. Rather, as APN argues in the brief, "this case represents a direct challenge to more than six decades of United States foreign policy on one of the most sensitive foreign policy questions facing the United States - recognition of sovereignty in Jerusalem." APN argues that this issue of recognition of sovereignty in Jerusalem is the quintessential example of why the Constitution clearly places such sensitive foreign policy decisions - specifically those related to recognition of foreign sovereigns and determining the extent of their territorial sovereignty - in the hands of the president.
APN's President and CEO Debra DeLee said: "APN has taken a position in this case because we recognize what is at stake here: preserving the very possibility of peace and the two-state solution, the only thing that can guarantee Israel's long term security and survival as a democracy and a Jewish state. For more than six decades, the U.S. has maintained a consistent and principled policy of refusing to recognize the sovereignty of any country in Jerusalem. Changing this policy now - the clear goal of this litigation - would drive a stake into the heart of efforts to re-start the peace process, would undermine the chances of launching viable peace efforts in the future, and would fatally threaten the credibility of the United States as an honest broker in peace efforts."
"Our government's policy of refusing to formally recognize Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem is difficult for many of our fellow members of the American Jewish community to accept. But recording someone's birthplace as "Jerusalem" rather than "Israel" in no way threatens our religious, spiritual, and historical attachment and claims in the city. In our hearts, 'Yerushalayim shel Ma'lah - celestial Jerusalem - is and will forever be Israel's capital. However, 'Yerushalayim shel Matah - mundane Jerusalem of daily life on the ground - poses extremely delicate and volatile foreign policy and national security challenges. These challenges cannot be addressed through heavy-handed Congressional declarations or legislation, and they cannot be resolved by the courts. They can only be resolved through Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and a peace agreement that delivers a two-state solution to the conflict."
"APN strongly believes that any action that threatens the ability of
Israel and the Palestinians to resolve their conflict over Jerusalem
jeopardizes a vital interest of Israel: a two-state solution. And if the
door is closed on such a solution in Jerusalem, then the door is also closed
on a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
The amicus brief concerns a lawsuit filed by a Jerusalem-born American citizen, which seeks to force the Secretary of State to comply with a 2002 law seeking to compel the State Department to de facto recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. After the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed that the case should be dismissed because it presented a "political question," the petitioner appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case this fall. APN's brief supports the rulings of the lower courts, as well as the position of the Obama administration, that this case presents a nonjusticiable political question, one that is not fit for judicial resolution.
To read or download APN's brief: http://peacenow.org/images/APNamicasbrief.pdf
5. Odds and Ends
APN recent publications:
From the press:
The Hill 9/30/11: Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman predicts House will cut all aid to Pakistan [Note: Ros-Lehtinen says there will be a hearing 10/14/11 on Iran and Syria, and a markup of pending Iran and Syria sanctions bills - the Iran Threat Reduction Act (H.R. 1905), the Syria Freedom Support Act (H.R. 2106), and the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Reform and Modernization Act (H.R. 2015) - on 10/26/11.]
The Cable 10/3/11: Robert Ford: Confirmed!
NYT 10/3/11: Foreign Aid Set to Take a Hit in U.S. Budget Crisis
(money quote: "The Republicans also attach conditions on aid to Pakistan, Egypt and the Palestinians, suspending the latter entirely if the Palestinians succeed in winning recognition of statehood at the United Nations. However, one of the largest portions of foreign aid - more than $3 billion for Israel - is left untouched in both the House and Senate versions, showing that, even in times of austerity, some spending is inviolable.")
The Independent 10/3/11: Arabs 'will help Palestine' after $200m cut in US aid
Washington Post 9/29/11: Egypt warns U.S. on attaching conditions to military aid
Atlantic Sentinel 9/27/11: Congress Considers Cutting Aid to Palestinians
The Cable 9/23/11: The GOP's new love for Amb. to Syria Robert Ford
The Cable 9/21/11: Berman to Egypt: Let My Lulavs Go
NYT 9/21/11: House G.O.P. Tightens Its Bond With Netanyahu
Check the APN blog for breaking news and analysis about issues related to Israel, the Middle East, and the Hill.
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Past editions of the Round-Up are archived and available online.