1. Bills, Resolutions and Letters
2. Consolidated Appropriations Passes (Israel, Egypt, Palestinians and more)
3. Iran Sanctions Bills Pass in House
4. Defense Authorization Passes (Israel, Iran and more)
5. Odds and Ends
Happy Holidays from APN! Some recommended APN reading for those who are interested: Huffington Post 12/15/11: The Belated Awakening to Settler Extremism (an issue Congress has yet to take notice of); Huffington Post 12/6/11: The 3 Monkeys of the "Pro-Israel" Right; and APN press release 12/16/11: APN to Presidential Candidates: Don't Play Politics with Israel's Future
1. Bills, Resolutions and Letters
(FOROPS etc) HR 2055: On 12/15/11 Conference report H. Rept. 112-331 - the House-Senate compromise text providing appropriations for the remainder of FY12 for most federal government operations - was filed. On 12/17/11 that report was passed in the House by a vote of 296-121, and in the Senate by a vote of 67-32. For Middle East-related details of the bill, see Section 2, below.
(DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION) S. 1867/HR 1540: On 12/1/11 the Senate passed S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a vote of 93-7, inserted the text of S. 1867 as a substitute for the text of HR 1540 (the House version of the bill), and sent it back to the House. Following a House-Senate conference, a compromise version of the HR 1540 was passed by the House on 12/14/11 and by the Senate on 12/15/11, and sent to the President on 12/21/11. The bill includes controversial new Iran sanctions as well as authorizing funding for Israel-related programs. For details, see Section 4, below.
(IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 1905: Introduced 5/13/11 by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and currently having 364 cosponsors, "the Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2011." On 12/14/11 this major sanctions bill (which includes highly controversial sanctions) was passed in House, as amended in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (with virtually no debate), under suspension of the rules (allowing for only limited floor "debate" and no amendments), by a vote of 410-11. This was only after all other relevant committees (House Financial Services, House Oversight and Government Reform, House Judiciary, and House Ways and Means) agreed to waive jurisdiction (i.e., they held no hearings or markups of the bill). Referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. For more details, see Section 3, below.
(SYRIA/IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 2105: Introduced 6/3/11 by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and having 46 cosponsors, the "Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Reform and Modernization Act of 2011." On 12/14/11 the major sanctions bill was passed in House, as amended in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (with virtually no debate), under suspension of the rules (allowing for only limited floor "debate" and no amendments), by a vote of 418-2. This was only after all other relevant committees (House Financial Services, House Oversight and Government Reform, House Judiciary, House Science, Space, and Technology, House Transportation and Infrastructure, and House Ways and Means) agreed to waive jurisdiction (i.e., they held no hearings or markups of the bill). Referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. For more details, see Section 3, below.
(TURKEY) H. Res. 306: Introduced 6/15/11 by Rep. Royce (R-CA), "Urging the Republic of Turkey to safeguard its Christian heritage and to return confiscated church properties. Passed by the House 12/13/11 under suspension of the rules, by a voice vote. Full floor discussion on the resolution can be viewed here.
(RELIGIOUS FREEDOM) HR
2867: Introduced 9/8/11 by Rep. Wolf (R-VA), "United States
Commission on International Religious Freedom Reform and Reauthorization
Act of 2011." On 12/16/11 the House voted to suspend the rules and
passed HR 2867, as amended by the Senate on 12/13/11. Presented to
the President 12/19/11. Floor discussion of the bill, including
discussion of the situation in Egypt, can be viewed
2. Consolidated Appropriations Passes (Israel, Egypt, Palestinians and more)
HR 2055, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012, was passed by the House on December 16 by a vote of 296-121, and by the Senate on December 17 by a vote of 67-32; it was sent to the president on December 21. HR 2055 includes FY12 funding for most federal government operations for the remainder of FY12, including for the Department of Defense and for the State Department and Foreign Operations.
Israel and Middle East-related elements in the bill are detailed below. For details of the earlier House and Senate versions of the bill, see the July 29, 2011 and September 17-October 4, 2011 editions of the Round-Up. Notably (and as warned in those Round-Ups), the bill threatens to shut down the PLO office (and virtually all PLO activities) inside the United States (see section 7086, below, for details).
DIVISION A: DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2012
Sec 8071: This section earmarks $235,700,000 in funding under the heading "Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, Defense-Wide" for the Israeli Cooperative programs. That funding is sub-earmarked as follows:
- $110,525,000 for the Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense (SRBMD) program, including cruise missile defense research and development under the SRBMD program, of which $15 million may be used "for production activities of SRBMD missiles in the United States and in Israel to meet Israel's defense requirements consistent with each nation's laws, regulations, and procedures" [note: generally such funding MUST be spent inside the United States. Israel gets special permission to use the funds inside Israel]
- $66,220,000 is sub-earmarked "for an upper-tier component to the Israeli Missile Defense Architecture"
- $58,955,000 is sub-earmarked for the Arrow System Improvement Program "including development of a long range, ground and airborne, detection suite."
In addition, Sec. 8071 provides (remarkably) that "funds made available under this provision for production of missiles and missile components may be transferred to appropriations available for the procurement of weapons and equipment, to be merged with and to be available for the same time period and the same purposes as the appropriation to which transferred." In effect, this proviso means that a significant portion of the $235,700,000 appropriated in this section can be transformed into additional Foreign Military Funding (FMF) for Israel (additional to the $3.075 billion in FMF appropriated for Israel as part of the ForOps section of this bill, discussed below).
The joint explanatory language accompanying the joint House-Senate conference version of the bill notes: "The fiscal year 2012 budget request includes $106,100,000 to continue Israeli Cooperative Programs, a decrease of over $100,000,000 from amounts appropriated in fiscal year 2011. The conferees find the request insufficient and provide an additional $129,600,000 to address Israel's security requirements. Within this amount, $15,000,000 shall be used only for the Low Rate Initial Production activities as included in the David's Sling Weapon System project agreement between the two governments."
DIVISION B -- ENERGY AND WATER DEVELOPMENT APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2012 JOINT EXPLANATORY STATEMENT OF THE COMMITTEE OF CONFERENCE
The joint explanatory language accompanying the joint House-Senate conference version of the bill, under the "Energy Programs" section of this division, notes: "Strategic Programs.--The Department is directed to only fund activities within the International Program that directly benefit domestic industry, increase American energy self-sufficiency, further United States research efforts, or reduce domestic pollution. Within available funds, the conference agreement includes $2,000,000 for the U.S.-Israel energy cooperative agreement."
DIVISION I--DEPARTMENT OF STATE, FOREIGN OPERATIONS, AND RELATED PROGRAMS APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2012
TITLE I - THE Department of State and Related Agencies
International Broadcasting Operations
The bill earmarks $740,100,000 "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".
Center for Middle Eastern-Western Dialogue
The bill includes a perennial provision making available interest and earnings accruing to the Fund on or before the end of the fiscal year available until expended, "For necessary expenses of the Center for Middle Eastern-Western Dialogue Trust Fund."
Israeli Arab Scholarship Program
The bill includes a perennial provision making all interest and earnings accruing to the Fund on or before the end of the fiscal year available until expended, "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)."
TITLE III - BILATERAL ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE
Economic Support Funds (ESF)
EGYPT: The bill earmarks $250,000,000 " for assistance for Egypt, 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, and to implement section 7041(a)(3) and (b) of this Act" (see below for details of sections 7041(a)(3) and (b).
LEBANON: The bill stipulates that of the funds made available for assistance for Lebanon under this heading (the amount is not earmarked), $12 million "shall be for scholarships at not-for-profit institutions for students in Lebanon with high financial need."
JORDAN: The bill earmarks not less than $360,000,000 for assistance for Jordan.
PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY: No funding for the Palestinian Authority is earmarked in the bill; extensive conditions on aid to the Palestinian Authority are laid out in Section 7040 (a perennial but ever-escalating set of conditions) and Section 7086 (a brand new set of conditions), discussed below.
TUNISIA: The bill states that "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".
West Bank and Gaza Programs: No funding for programs in the West Bank and Gaza (provided through non-governmental organizations) is earmarked in the bill); extensive conditions on such funding are laid out in Sec. 7039 (below).
Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA)
The bill stipulates that not less than $20 million in MRA funds shall be available for the resettlement of refugees in Israel (the amount was $25 million in FY11).
TITLE IV - INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE
IAEA: The bill includes a perennial language stipulating that that funds appropriated under this heading may be made available for the International Atomic Energy Agency only if the Secretary of State (and reports to Congress) that Israel is not being denied its right to participate in the activities of that Agency.
Peacekeeping Operations (PKO): The bill earmarks $28 million for the U.S. contribution to the Multinational Force and Observers mission in the Sinai.
Foreign Military Financing (FMF) - total for the entire program: $5,210,000,000
ISRAEL: The bill earmarks not less than $3,075,000,000 for FMF for Israel, to be disbursed within 30 days of the enactment of this Act. The bill stipulates that to the extent that the Government of Israel requests and as agreed by Israel and the U.S., these funds shall be made available for advanced weapons systems, of which not less than $808,725,000 shall be made available for procurement of articles and services in Israel, including research and development.
As noted previously in the Round-Up, these little-remarked stipulations - early disbursal and permission for not less than almost $1 billion of FMF to be spent inside Israel - are unique to Israel's aid program. Both significantly increase the value of the assistance to Israel - and the cost of the assistance to the U.S. In all other cases, FMF is disbursed by the U.S. on an as-used basis, meaning that the U.S. either keeps the money in the U.S. Treasury until it is needed (where it earns interest) or if the money is not in the U.S. Treasury, does not have to borrow it until it is needed (meaning less interest paid). In the case of Israel, the entire almost $3.1 billion is handed over in a lump sum, by law, within 30 days of the law passing, meaning that Israel can bank the money and earn interest on it (which it can spend however it likes). In addition, in all other cases, FMF must be spent inside the U.S. (unless a specific exemption is granted). The logic behind this is that FMF is not just a "gift" to a foreign country but is actually a form of investment in the U.S. economy. In Israel's case, however, almost $1 billion of FMF is, in fact, a cash gift that benefits the military industry in Israel, not the U.S.
EGYPT: The bill states that "not less than $1,300,000,000 shall be made available for grants only for Egypt, including for border security programs and activities in the Sinai." The bill also includes a perennial provision under which estimated current year outlays for Egypt shall be placed in an interest-bearing account within 30 days of the enactment of this Act (a provision added more than a decade ago to establish some semblance of parity with Israel's early disbursal provisions, enabling Egypt to earn interest on a portion of its annual aid).
JORDAN: The bill earmarks $300 million in FMF for Jordan, with no conditions or stipulations.
TEAR GAS/CROWD CONTROL ITEMS: The bill includes a brand-new provision stating:
"not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act and 6 months thereafter, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations detailing any crowd control items, including tear gas, made available with appropriated funds or through export licenses to foreign security forces that the Secretary of State has credible information have repeatedly used excessive force to repress peaceful, lawful, and organized dissent." The provision goes on to state: "the Secretary of State should consult with the Committees on Appropriations prior to obligating funds for such items to governments of countries undergoing democratic transition in the Middle East and North Africa." NOTE: This provision appears to have been added in response to concerns about the use of U.S.-manufactured tear gas by Egyptian security forces. That said, it begs the question: is Congress not also interested in the use of such materials by Israel in the West Bank, where unarmed protesters/demonstrators, including American citizens, have been severely injured or killed by tear gas canisters fired at close range? Given the way this provision was drafted, the answer would appear to be "no", since under Israeli military law, all Palestinian protests in the West Bank are illegal and thus Israeli actions against them cannot, by definition, be even examined as possible "excessive force to repress peaceful, lawful, and organized dissent."
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. 7015 (f): Reprogramming Notification Requirements.
This section states that no funds appropriated under titles III through VI of this Act (pretty much all funds in the bill) may be obligated or expended for assistance to Serbia, Sudan, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Cuba, Iran, Haiti, Libya, Ethiopia, Nepal, Colombia, Honduras, Burma, Yemen, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, the Russian Federation, Somalia, Sri Lanka, or Cambodia "except as provided through regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations."
Sec. 7021: Prohibition on assistance to governments supporting international terrorism
Perennial bill language (a) banning assistance to governments that export lethal military equipment to countries supporting international terrorism, including a Presidential national security waiver, and (b) prohibiting aid to any country which the President determines grants sanctuary to any individual or group that has committed an act of international terrorism, or any country that the President determines otherwise supports international terrorism, also including a national security waiver for the President. (Note: Sec. 7021 combines what were previously two separate sections in the bill).
Sec. 7035: 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. 7036: 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. NOTE: 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 below) essentially bar any aid to the PA if it is pursuing recognition as a state via membership in the UN or UN agencies, 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. 7037: 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. 7038: 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. 7039: 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. 7040: Limitation on Assistance to the Palestinian Authority
This perennial section is another example 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.
Part (a) of this perennial section 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, stipulating that "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 that results from an agreement with Hamas and over which Hamas exercises undue influence."
That last clause is important. The House version of this bill was written to effectively reject not only a unity government that includes Hamas members, but also any technocratic government that includes no Hamas members but is acceptable to Hamas. The final wording (above), adds the words "over which Hamas exercises undue influence" - appearing to leave some room open for U.S. support for a genuine technocratic government.
The subsequent paragraphs qualify this ban further, permitting assistance to a power-sharing government if the President certifies 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 19 Act of 1961, as amended" - the referenced section of law essentially being the Quartet Conditions (text below). The next paragraph states 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" - the referenced text giving the president the authority to waive the ban on aid to a power-sharing government for specific purposes and only after jumping through a number of significant hoops (including certifying that doing so serves U.S. national security interests) (text below).
Finally, the last paragraph of this section reiterates the longstanding U.S. ban on any aid to the PLO.
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. 7041: 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. 7041(a) EGYPT
This section places one condition on all U.S. assistance (ESF and FMF) to Egypt:
Israel-Egypt peace treaty: "None of the funds appropriated under titles III and IV of this Act and in prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs 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."
This section places one additional condition on FMF to Egypt:
Transition to civilian government: "Prior to the obligation of funds appropriated by this Act under the heading ``Foreign Military Financing Program'', the Secretary of State shall certify to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of Egypt is supporting the transition to civilian government including holding free and fair elections; implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association, and religion, and due process of law." In addition, the bill states that the Secretary of State consult with the Committees on Appropriations prior to the transfer of FMF funds to an interest-bearing account for Egypt [giving Appropriators the opportunity to place a hold on such transfer]
The bill grants the Secretary of State the authority to waive both of these conditions for national security reasons.
DEBT RELIEF: In addition, the bill states that ESF funds for Egypt in this Act (as well as in prior acts) "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 enterprises with emphasis on expanding opportunities for women, as well as other appropriate market-reform and economic growth activities." The section goes on to state 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" [dealing with debt relief for Jordan], subject to a number of additional provisos. 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 is implementing economic development policies consistent with the objectives of such initiative" and "funds made available for such initiative shall be subject to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations."
---- Sec. 7041(b) ENTERPRISE FUNDS
This section makes ESF appropriated in this Act (and prior Acts) available "to establish and operate one or more enterprise funds" for Egypt, Tunisia, and Jordan, as follows (and subject to various provisos):
- up to $60 million for assistance for Egypt,
- up to $20 million for assistance for Tunisia
- up to $60 million for Jordan
---- Sec. 7041(c) IRAN
This section replaces a somewhat similar section added to the previous ForOps bill. It sets out U.S policy as being "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." The section goes on to bar the use of U.S. funding to Ex-Im Bank "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-
13." The section also requires extensive reporting to Congress on the status of bilateral and multilateral sanctions efforts, current and planned.
---- Sec. 7041(d) IRAQ
This section details conditions on Iraq assistance.
---- Sec. 7041(e) LEBANON
This section states that none of the funds appropriated by this Act may be made available for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) "if the LAF is controlled by a foreign terrorist organization, as defined by section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act." It also states that FMF funds for Lebanon in this Act "may be made available only to professionalize the LAF and to strengthen border security and combat terrorism, including training and equipping the LAF 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." The section requires the Secretary of State to submit "a detailed spend plan to the Committees on Appropriations before obligating funds for Lebanon, and to "regularly consult with the Committees on Appropriations on the activities of the LAF and assistance provided by the United States." In addition, the section requires that "not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations detailing the actions taken to ensure that equipment provided to the LAF is used for intended purposes."
---- Sec. 7041(f) LIBYA
This section states that up to $20 million in funding "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 and professionals." The section bars funds from the Act for "assistance for Libya for infrastructure projects, except on a loan basis with terms favorable to the United States, and only following consultation with the Committees on Appropriations."
---- Sec. 7041(g) MOROCCO
This section states that prior to the obligation of any FMF to Morocco, the Secretary of State must submit 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."
---- Sec. 7041(h) SYRIA
This section states that "Funds appropriated by this Act shall be made available to promote democracy and protect human rights in Syria, a portion of which should be programmed in consultation with governments in the region, as appropriate."
---- Sec. 7041(i) YEMEN
This section stipulates that "None of the funds appropriated by this Act may be made available for the Armed Forces of Yemen if such forces are controlled by a foreign terrorist organization, as defined by section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act."
Sec. 7049: UNITED NATIONS
Among other things, this section deals with UN agencies, bodies, commissions, etc, that may be chaired or presided over by a country that the Secretary has determined under U.S. law to support international terrorism. In such case, the section stipulates that no funds from this act may be used "to pay expenses for any United States delegation" to any such body, or as a contribution" to any such body. The section allows the Secretary of State to waive these restrictions in the furtherance of U.S. national interests.
In addition, the section stipulates that funds in this act may be used for contributions or assessments to the United Nations Human Rights Council only "if the Secretary of State determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that participation in the Council is in the national interest of the United States." The section also requires the Secretary of State to report to the Committees on Appropriations "not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, and every 180 days thereafter until September 30, 2012, on the resolutions considered in the United Nations Human Rights Council."
In addition, the section carries over past reporting requirements related to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), as contained in the joint explanatory statement accompanying the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2009 (Public Law 111-32, House Report 111-151.
Sec. 7054: LANDMINES AND CLUSTER MUNITIONS
This section stipulates that "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." It also states that "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. 7062(f): RECONCILIATION PROGRAMS
This section states that of the ESF and DA (development assistance) funds provided in the bill, $26 million "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". In addition, it states that of the ESF and DA funds provided in the bill, an additional $10 million "should be made available for a 'New Generation in the Middle East' initiative to build understanding, tolerance, and mutual respect among the next generation of Israeli and Palestinian leaders."
Sec. 7069: COMMERCIAL LEASING OF DEFENSE ARTICLES
This section provides for financing "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, not including Major Defense Equipment (other than helicopters and other types of aircraft having possible civilian application), 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 under such Act."
Sec. 7070: INDEPENDENT STATES OF THE FORMER SOVIET UNION
This section lays out conditions/requirements for funding for states of the former Soviet Union, including barring 60% of funds provided in the bill for the Government of the Russian Federation until the President certifies (among other things) that Russia " has terminated implementation of arrangements to provide Iran with technical expertise, training, technology, or equipment necessary to develop a nuclear reactor, related nuclear research facilities or programs, or ballistic missile capability."
Sec. 7086: LIMITATIONS (PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY and PLO OFFICE/OPERATIONS IN THE U.S.)
This section ties U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority, as well as the operations of the PLO (including its office in Washington, DC) to whether the Palestinians seek membership at additional UN agencies/bodies (in addition to UNESCO, which is already a done deal).
Part (a) of this section bars ESF funds to the Palestinian authority "if the Palestinians obtain, after the date of enactment of this Act, the same standing as member states or full membership as a state in the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof outside an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians." The section allows the Secretary of State to waive this restriction if she certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that doing so "is in the national security interest of the United States, and submits a report to such Committees detailing how the waiver and the continuation of assistance would assist in furthering Middle East peace."
Part (b) of this section permits the President to waive the provisions of section 1003 of Public Law 100-204 (barring the PLO from virtually all activities and any office in the United States) only "if the President determines and certifies in writing to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President pro tempore of the Senate, and the Committees on Appropriations that the Palestinians have not, after the date of enactment of this Act, obtained in the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof the same standing as member states or full membership as a state outside an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians."
If the president is unable to make such a certification, the section requires him to wait at least 90 days (meaning the PLO office in Washington must close). After that he may waive the provisions of section 1003 of Public Law 100-204, but this time ONLY if he "determines and certifies in writing to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President pro tempore of the Senate, and the Committees on Appropriations that the Palestinians have entered into direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel." (It is not clear how the Administration is expected to judge what qualifies negotiations as "meaningful" or whose fault a potential lack of meaning in any negotiations might be). The section provides NO waiver authority based on national interests or national security interests of the United States.
Background: Traditionally the ForOps bill includes a provision, buried in the "Special Provisions" section, providing the President the authority, on the basis of U.S. national interests, to waive a piece of anti-Palestinian legislation that dates back to 1988 (when the PLO was still a US- designated FTO; it was removed from the list in 1991) and that is still on the books. This situation reflects the fact that members of Congress never use up political capital repealing anti-Palestinian legislation, no matter how archaic or anachronistic it may be. 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 provided the president (limited) 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.
As passed by Congress in HR 2055, what had been a "clean" national security waiver has been eliminated and replaced by a limited, conditional waiver. Apparently when it comes to dealing with the Palestinians, Congress has decided that U.S. national security interests are no longer relevant - nor is the fact that the PLO has not been on the FTO list for more 20 years.
3. Iran Sanctions Bills Pass in House
HR 1905, "The Iran Threat Reduction Act" and HR 2105 the "Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Reform and Modernization Act of 2011" both passed under suspension of the rules December 14th (by votes of 410-11 and 418-2, respectively), after other committees with jurisdiction over the bills agreed to waive consideration (meaning no hearings or markups in any of the other committees that would normally have a part in dealing with bills on such subjects and of such magnitude/impact). Bringing the bills to the floor under suspension of the rules meant that no amendments were allowed and debate was sharply limited. General only measures that are wholly non-controversial and not deeply substantive (with huge national security implications) are brought to the floor in this manner - measures that by their nature can be passed, responsibly, with only cursory debate. Clearly that was not the case with these bills, but apparently - given the intensely political nature of anything related to Iran - few members had the courage to protest.
All 40 minutes of the faux "debate" on HR 1905 on the House floor can be read here. The similarly limited, faux "debate" on HR 2105 can be read here. Reps. Quigley (D-IL), Maloney (D-NY), Crowley (D-NY), Welch (D-VT), Rep. Hurt (R-VA) also entered statements into the record in support of HR 1905.
HR 1905 - the floor "debate"
The only members who spoke in opposition to the bill on the floor were Kucinich (D-OH) and Blumenauer (D-OR). Reps. Holt (D-NJ) and George Miller (D-CA) spoke on the House floor to express support for the bill but reservations about Sec. 601 (discussed below). Rep. Moran (D-VA) submitted a statement for the record laying out his reservations about HR 1905.
Overall, the theme of the "debate" on HR 1905 was that Iran poses an imminent nuclear threat to the United States (with Democrats seemingly intent on out-doing Republicans in describing the situation in ever-more catastrophic terms), making the sanctions in the bill - the details of which were barely discussed, let alone debated - absolutely necessary:
Berman (D-CA): "This bill may represent our last chance to find a peaceful means to pressure the Iranian regime into stopping its nuclear weapons program. Within the next year, possibly in the next 6 months, this program may become irreversible unless we act now... One of the most important elements of this bill is my measure to impose sanctions on Iran's Central Bank, which provides key financial support for Iran's nuclear-weapons and terrorism activities. This measure would cut Iran entirely off from the world's banking system, dealing an unprecedented blow to Iran's economy... We may have only a few more months to deal peacefully with this crisis. There is no time to lose."
Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL): "Our fundamental strategic objective must be to stop Iran before it obtains nuclear weapons capabilities and to compel it to permanently dismantle its pursuit of such weapons. That is the test we face. And if we fail, it will come as no consolation to the families of the victims of past and future Iranian attacks or to our allies. We don't know how much time we have left...Tehran may very well be closer to a nuclear weapons capability than we even assume. Some estimates now place them a mere 6 months to a year away from having all the ingredients in place to build a nuclear weapon. Every day they move closer and closer to realizing their nuclear ambitions, and our nightmare scenario moves closer and closer to becoming a reality. The Iranian regime is not interested in any outcome other than a nuclear Iran, though they are happy to use negotiations to buy time to make progress in their nuclear program. Yet we know that when sanctions have been applied, even limited sanctions, they have had an impact on the Iranian regime..."
Sherman (D-CA): "...We have to create circumstances where the regime in Tehran has to choose between its nuclear weapons program and regime survival."
Engel (D-NY): "Under no circumstances should Iran be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon. This is a dangerous regime which supports terrorism and calls for the destruction of Israel. And every day they're getting closer to weaponizing a stockpile of enriched uranium. No amount of naivete or wishful thinking will get the Iranian regime to back down. They are liars, and diplomacy hasn't worked and won't work. They'll only play for time. We heard the same arguments about not putting the sanctions on the apartheid regime in South Africa. Now we hear that oil is going to go sky high. Well, you know what? I think morality is more important than the price of oil. I think morality says that this terrible regime should not be allowed to have nuclear weapons, should not be allowed to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth, should not be allowed to do the horrible things that it does."
Deutch (D-FL): "The legislation before us today will give the United States the tools to impose the most stringent, the most crippling sanctions aimed at cracking down on what is the greatest threat to international security, a nuclear armed Iran."
Pallone (D-NJ): "...I don't think there is a comparison between the situation in Iraq and Iran because it has become abundantly clear that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons; and a nuclear Iran would not only threaten the United States but democratic nations all across the globe."
Waxman (D-CA): "It is clear that Iran's leaders are determined to acquire a nuclear weapon... Together, these initiatives can only have one purpose: at the least, to enable Iran to exercise nuclear blackmail in pursuit of its extreme agenda. But this also means that Iran will have the Iranian people. capability to actually use a nuclear weapon, and bring a catastrophe upon us all--and upon the Iranian people."
HR 1905 - Controversial Sections
Sec. 201: This section further limits the President's (already limited) flexibility with respect to Executive orders. This boils down to whether Congress wants to leave the President even a modicum of leeway in possible engagement with Iran. Under HR 1905, as passed by the House, the message is: Congress wants to cut off every avenue of flexibility, meaning that even if an opening for engagement/diplomacy was to appear the President couldn't do anything unless Congress first gives him permission.
Sec. 302: This section eliminates an existing waiver that permits the export of parts for civilian aircraft to Iran. Supporters of this section like Sherman (D-CA) have been explicit that their intent is to hurt Iranian civilians (already Iran experiences an extraordinary number of commercial airline crashes).
Sec. 401b: This section places sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), despite the fact that the Administration has made clear that such sanctions undermine efforts to muster broad, coordinated international pressure on Iran (which is in all likelihood the only kind of pressure that can really make a difference). The underlying goal of these sanctions (like crippling sanctions passed previously by Congress in the form of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act - IRPSA) is to collapse the Iranian economy as a means of forcing the Iranian government to change course (or disappear). Which like IRPSA means that Congress is trying to inflict maximal misery on the Iranian people so that eventually their government will fall or be forced to say "uncle." Setting aside the moral issue of collective punishment against the Iranian people, years of sanctioning Iran (like Iraq, Cuba, Libya, Syria, Gaza, etc) has demonstrated the ineffectiveness of such sanctions in terms of changing either the government's behavior or causing it to fall (which is not to say that such sanctions are not quite successful in terms of inflicting misery on the civilian populations of these countries, but at least in theory that is not supposed to be the actual goal). On top of that, it seems likely that these CBI sanctions could end up benefiting the regime financially.
Sec. 601(c): Berman (D-CA) insisted during discussion of the bill on the floor that "there is nothing in this bill that prohibits Americans from having contact with Iranians. There is nothing in this bill that prohibits the President of the United States or his Secretary of State or such other emissaries or agencies he chooses from engaging diplomatically on the issue of ending Iran's nuclear weapons program. I would not support a bill that prohibited that." The bill text would indicate otherwise. The text reads:
Sec. 601(c) Restriction on Contact- No person employed with the United States Government may contact in an official or unofficial capacity any person that-
(1) is an agent, instrumentality, or official of, is affiliated with, or is serving as a representative of the Government of Iran; and
(2) presents a threat to the United States or is affiliated with terrorist organizations.
(d) Waiver- The President may waive the requirements of subsection (c) if the President determines and so reports to the appropriate congressional committees 15 days prior to the exercise of waiver authority that failure to exercise such waiver authority would pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the vital national security interests of the United States.
The wording of Sec. 601(c) is clear: it bars any U.S. government employee from engaging any Iranian official or representative unless they get prior approval from Congress. All of the arguments offered for why this language is not a problem fall short:
- It has been argued that there is some wiggle room in this language, based on the interpretation of the phrase "presents a threat to the United States or is affiliated with terrorist organization". However, this is not a particularly convincing argument given that as far as Congress is concerned, pretty much any official affiliated with the Iranian regime would probably be defined as presenting a threat to the United States.
- It has been argued that there is nothing to worry about, since the Senate will never allow this language to become law. This is not a particularly reassuring argument, given that in the current political climate it cannot be assumed that Senators will fall on their swords to take this language out.
- It has been argued that there is nothing here to worry about, since the language is clearly unconstitutional anyway: in the event that the Senate fails to intervene and this actually becomes law, the Obama Administration can declare it such and refuse to abide by it (as was the tradition of President George W. Bush). This argument is extremely problematic. Yes, the language is blatantly unconstitutional - which means it Congress shouldn't pass it. And putting it into a bill that the President will in all likelihood feel compelled to sign (for domestic political reasons, not policy reasons) forces the president to de facto and (apparently) de jure endorse unconstitutional legislation. Given the political pressures on him over Iran, that will mean either he bows to Congress on this or has to fall on his sword and explain why he is breaking the law that he signed.
- Finally, all of these arguments miss the fact that this language - which was added to the bill in the House Foreign Affairs Committee without any debate, and which was never seriously discussed in any House forum - sets an extremely problematic precedent: will the House next pass a bill barring diplomacy with the new Egyptian parliament, unless specifically authorized by Congress? Or barring any official U.S. contact with members of any government or party that, whether for legitimate policy reasons or for reasons of political expediency Congress has decided to target?
Click here to read the letter signed by 25 organizations (including APN) opposing Sec. 601(c).
4. Defense Authorization Passes (Israel, Iran and more)
Following days of debates and amendments, on 12/1/11 the Senate passed S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a vote of 93-7. That bill included new sanctions aimed at shutting down Iran's Central Bank, added to the bill in an amendment offered by Senators Menendez (D-NJ) and Kirk (R-IL), which passed by a vote of 100-0, despite the fact that it was opposed by the Obama Administration (Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner weighed in 12/1/11 with a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Levin, D-MI, making that opposition explicit; Menendez made his own frustration with the Obama Administration equally explicit). For details of the bill, see the November 12-30, 2011 edition of the Round-Up.
The Senate then inserted the text of S. 1867 as a substitute for the text of HR 1540, previously passed in the House, and sent it back to the House. Following a carefully-watched House-Senate conference, during which intense pressure was placed on House conferees (the prime targets of this pressure were Berman, D-CA and Adam Smith, D-WA), not to soften the Menendez-Kirk language - in the end the language was tweaked, but only somewhat (much of that pressure seemed to come from journalists playing into, perhaps inadvertently, some elections primaries politics - see here, here, and here). On 12/12/11 a joint House-Senate Conference report (H. Rept. 112-329) was filed. On 12/14/11 the House passed the Conference report by a vote of 283-136. On 12/15/11 the Senate passed the Conference report by a vote of 86-13. On 12/21/11 HR 1540 was presented to the President. As of 12/14/11 the State Department wouldn't say how it felt about the final language.
5. Odds and Ends
Tablet 12/22/11: Israel Supports Unfreezing Aid to P.A.
YNet 12/22/11: Israel says won't oppose US aid to Palestinians
YNet 12/22/11: US earmarks $235 million for Israel's defense systems
NPR 12/21/11: White House Faces Tough Choice On Iran Sanctions
FoxNews 12/16/11: Congress Spending Package Restricts Aid to Egypt, Pakistan
Arutz Sheva 12/16/11: U.S. Proposal: Aid for the PA, but No More Pushing at UN
The Hill (Blog) 12/15/11: GOP lawmaker rejects Friedman's 'bought and paid for' assertion on Netanyahu
LA Times 12/15/11: Palestinian aid to continue, with strings
Wall Street Journal 12/15/11: U.S. Pursues Sale of Armed Drones
The Paramus Post 12/14/11: Congressman Rothman: Friedman Owes Us an Apology for "Israel Lobby" Charge
Washington Post 12/14/11:House backs crippling sanctions on Iran, prospects for legislation uncertain
Jamal Abdi 12/16/11: Domestic politics drives US sanctions on Iran
NIAC 12/14/11: Congress' Extreme Iran Sanctions
The Hill 12/13/11:Sen. Lieberman: Palestinians 'are a people today'
AP 12/9/11: Congress rebuffs easing of Iran sanctions
The Wall Street Journal 12/2/11: Senate Takes Action Against Iran
AFP 11/29/11:US senator says new Iran sanctions won't disrupt oil
Members on the Record
Rigell (R-VA), 12/19/11: A Chanuka (sic) Message
Ted "and that's just the way it is" Poe (R-TX), 12/15/11: Coptic Christians Under Attack
Israel (D-NY), 12/15/11: Threat of a Nuclear-Armed Iran "most critical global challenge that we face... A nuclear-armed Iran is not only an existential threat to our closest ally, the State of Israel; but it also poses grave danger to our own Nation and allies around the globe."
Murphy (R-PA), 12/15/11: Israel, Together We Stand (bad Tom Friedman!)
Shimkus (R-IL), 12/15/11: Energy Security (and how it relates to Iran and the Keystone XL Pipeline)
Gohmert (R-TX), 12/15/11: Reining In Spending (somehow linking to accusations of Islamophobia)
HFAC press release 12/14/11: Ros-Lehtinen Pleased Iran Sanctions and Nonproliferation Bills Pass House by Wide Margin
Markey (D-MA), 12/14/11: Iran, North Korea, And Syria Nonproliferation Reform And Modernization Act Of 2011 (HR 2105)
HFAC press release 12/13/11: As Palestinian Flag Raised at UNESCO, Ros-Lehtinen Urges Funding Cutoff to Continue
Kirk (R-IL), 12/13/11: On Egypt elections and the threat of Islamists
Moran (D-VA), 12/13/11: Urging Turkey to Safeguard Its Christian Heritage (H. Res. 306)
Ted "and that's just the way it is" Poe (R-TX), 12/13/11: Stand with Israel (cut UN funding)
Gohmert (R-TX), 12/12/11: Eternal Vigilance (somehow linking to Israel and Islam)
Gohmert (R-TX), 12/2/11: Budgetary and Other Concerns (somehow linking to Israel, Iran, and danger of Sharia law)
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