APN Legislative Round-Up: June 5, 2015

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2. House ForOps Process Begins  
3. Hearings
4.  Members on the Record

 Shameless plug:
Dear World: Netanyahu Is Calling You Stupid (Lara Friedman in HuffPo, 5/29)

Also, a round-up of good reporting on pro-settlements language in trade bills (there will be an update on the trade bill when there is news to report):
Inside AIPAC's Quiet Campaign To Blur Israeli Settlement Lines (Jessica Shulberg, HuffPo, 5/28)
Trade measures could shift U.S. policy on Israeli settlements (Bob Egelko, SFGate, 5/15)
AIPAC-backed amendments add to trade bill turmoil (Nahal Toosi, Politico, 5/11)

 

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters

(FY16 FOROPS) HR XXX: On 6/3 the House Appropriations Committee’s State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee marked up its version of the FY16 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, still referred to by many as the ForOps bill (partly out of habit, since for years State was included in a different approps bill, and party because SFOPS sounds silly…). Video of markup is here. As always, the bill includes extensive Middle East-related provisions, discussed in detail in Section 2, below. 

(PA INCITMENT) H. Res. 293:  Introduced 6/3 by HFAC Middle East Subcommittee Chair Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Ranking Member Deutch (D-FL), “Expressing concern over anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement within the Palestinian Authority.” Press release here.  Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Some notable things about this resolution:

(1) There is no indication of why it is being introduced now.  The litany of accusations against the PA all relate to incidents that date back more than six months, and some several years.

(2) The most recent offense cited is a quote from a speech Abbas gave in November 2014. However, the resolution grossly mistranslates the quote, stating that Abbas said he will not allow the Temple Mount to be “contaminated by Jews”; in fact, Abbas refers to “settlers and extremists” [he never used the word “Jews”] and says they will not be allowed “to sully our holy sites...” (for the record, the Times of Israel got this mostly right, though translating the verb Abbas used as “contaminate” is questionable).

(3) The resolution slams the PA for showing “maps of the land without reference to Israel” – a valid point – but completely ignores the fact that the Israeli government is guilty of the same offense, and to what appears to be a far greater and more systematic degree.  Indeed, a quick scan of Israeli government ministry websites conducted on 6/5 finds that every single site examined that displays maps of Israel includes maps of this kind:

  • The Israel Lands Authority 
  • The Weather Service
  • The Israel Meteorological Service
  • the Tourism ministry (an “external site” accessed through the Israeli Government portal – see map of Israel with the Green Line erased here; see page with links to the “Regions of Israel,” with the Palestinians erased and the West Bank broken down into several of these “regions of Israel,” here)
  • the Ministry of Environmental Protection (which in addition to the Green Line-less map describes the Dead Sea – located mostly in the West Bank – as one of the three bodies of water bordering Israel)
  • the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which compounds the issue with text explicitly defining “Israel” to erase the Palestinians and any claims they may have – “The total area of the State of Israel is 8,630 sq. miles (22,145 sq.km.), of which 8,367 sq. miles (21,671 sq. km.) is land area. Israel is some 470 km. (290 miles) in length and about 85 miles (135 km.) across at the widest point. The country is bordered by Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan to the east, Egypt to the southwest and the Mediterranean Sea to the west.”

(4) The resolution notably ignores the glaring problem of anti-Palestinian, anti-peace, racist incitement coming from the Israeli side, as was prominently displayed during the recent Israeli election campaign, not to mention the anti-two-state positions openly and gleefully espoused by many in Netanyahu’s new government. 

(NDAA) HR 1735: On 5/15 the House passed HR 1735, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016.  For details on House floor action/amendments, see the 5/15 edition of the Round-Up. This week, the NDAA came to the Senate floor, where Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) chair McCain (R-AZ) offered Senate Amdt 1463, the SASC-adopted version of the bill, as an amendment in the nature of a substitute (i.e., to delete the entire House text and replace it with the text adopted by the SASC on 5/14 – as discussed in the 5/15 edition of the Round-Up.) That bill includes numerous Middle East-related elements, most notably:

Sec. 1241: “Modification and Extension of Annual Report on the Military Power of Iran.” This section adds a reporting requirement on “Iranian strategy regarding offensive cyber capabilities and defensive cyber capabilities.''

Sec. 1272: “Report on bilateral agreement with Israel on joint activities to establish an anti-tunneling defense system.” This section requires a report on “the feasibility and advisability of the entry by the United States and Israel into a bilateral agreement through which the governments of the two countries carry out research, development, and test activities on a joint basis to establish an anti-tunneling defense system to detect, map, and neutralize underground tunnels into and directed at the territory of Israel”

Sec. 1273: “Sense of Senate and report on Qatar fighter aircraft capability contribution to regional security.”

Sec. 1644: “Availability of Funds for Iron Dome Short-Range Rocket Defense System.” This section provides $41.4 million for the Government of Israel to procure the Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system

Sec. 1645: “Israeli cooperative missile defense program codevelopment and potential coproduction.” This section provides $150 million to the Government of Israel to procure the David's Sling Weapon System, and $15 million for the Arrow 3 Upper Tier Interceptor Program.

Sec. 1633: “Assessment of Global Nuclear Environment.” This section notes, among other things, that “Iran aspires to acquire a nuclear weapons capability” and “A regional nuclear competition has emerged in South Asia between India and Pakistan. Another such competition may emerge in the Middle East between Iran and Israel, triggering a nuclear proliferation cascade across the Middle East, involving Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and perhaps other countries as well.”

Senate consideration of further amendments to the bill (technically, amendments to McCain’s amendments) continues as of this writing. Middle East-related amendments submitted so far are listed below (text of theses amendment is available in the Congressional Record, here):

SA 1628: Offered by Ayotte (R-NH), to replace Sec. 1272 of the bill with a section authorizing “United States-Israel Anti-Tunnel Cooperation” (Why have a feasibility report before authorizing a new program?)  

SA 1667: Offered by McCain (R-AZ), to insert a sense of Congress on “the Security and Protection of Iranian Dissidents Living in Camp Liberty, Iraq”

SA 1710: Offered by Kirk (R-IL) and Menendez (D-NJ), to extend the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 until December 31, 2026.

SA 1758: Offered by Kirk (R-IL), to limit the provision of certain missile defense technology to the Russian Federation (conditions on waiving the limit include certifying that Russia “has terminated its contract to sell the S-300 air defense system to the Islamic Republic of Iran.” 

SA 1759: Offered by Kirk (R-IL), to require a far-reaching report on “Use by Iran of Funds Made Available through Sanctions Relief”

SA 1783: Offered by McCain (R-AZ) to amend the existing section on “Qatar Fighter Aircraft Capability Contribution to Regional Safety” to, among other things, add a finding stating that “the maintenance by Israel of a Qualitative Military Edge (QME) is vital, and due diligence is essential in thoroughly evaluating the impact of such a sale as it relates to the military capabilities of Israel”)

SA 1787: Offered by Sessions (R-AL), to insert a Sense of Congress implicitly critical of the Obama Administration’s handling of Iran negotiations and of the pending nuclear deal

(AMERICANS HELD IN IRAN) H. Res. 233: Introduced 4/29 by Kildee (D-MI) and having 185 cosponsors, “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that Iran should immediately release the three United States citizens that it holds, as well as provide all known information on any United States citizens that have disappeared within its borders.” Marked up by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on 6/2 and passed by Unanimous Consent, following an HFAC hearing entitled, Americans Detained in Iran (video of the hearing is here). HFAC press release on the markup/passage of H. Res. 233 is here.

(PROTECTING SETTLEMENTS) HR 2645: Introduced 6/4 by Boyle (D-PA), “To amend title 5, United States Code, to prevent the Thrift Savings Fund from investing in any company that boycotts Israel.” Referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  Boyle touts the bill on his website as a measure to “prevent the federal pension system from investing in companies that boycott Israel.” However, in that same press release he quotes the operative language in the bill – language which, like the language in the pending trade bill, explicitly conflates Israel and settlements, by defining “boycotting Israel” as meaning “engaging in actions that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or otherwise limit commercial relations with the State of Israel or companies based in the State of Israel or in territories controlled by the State of Israel.”(emphasis added) [Note: The U.S. already has extensive laws and regulations in place – and, in fact, a dedicated office in the Department of Commerce – that seek to prevent companies from cooperating with boycotts of sovereign Israel].

(DOD APPROPS) HR XXX On 6/2, the House Appropriations Committee marked up and passed the FY16 Department of Defense Appropriations bill.  The Committee report on the bill is here; press release on Committee passage of the bill is here.  The bill includes funding for U.S.-Israel cooperation programs in Sec. 8086, which earmarks $487,595,000 for Israeli Cooperative Programs. Of that amount, $55,000,000 is sub-earmarked “for the Secretary of Defense to provide to the Government of Israel for the procurement of the Iron Dome defense system”;  $286,526,000 is sub-earmarked for the Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense (SRBMD) program, of which $15,000,000 must 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.” Another $89,550,000 is sub-earmarked for “an upper-tier component to the Israeli Missile Defense Architecture” and another $56,519,000 for the Arrow System Improvement Program…”

(REPEAL BLASPHEMY LAWS) H. Res. 290: Introduced 6/2 by Pitts (R-PA), “Calling for the global repeal of blasphemy laws.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The bill specifically calls out Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan for actions taken against citizens using blasphemy laws, and urges the Administration to “designate Pakistan and Egypt each as a ‘country of particular concern’ under the International Religious Freedom Act for perpetrating and tolerating particularly severe violations of religious freedom, including abuses flowing from the enforcement of its blasphemy law and from vigilante violence around blasphemy allegations that takes place with impunity.”

Letters:

(SLAMMING ORANGE FOR BEING ANTI-ISRAEL) Roskam letter to Hollande:  On 6/5, Roskam (R-FL) – one of the driving forces in Congress pushing legislation aimed at protecting Israeli settlements and the occupation from international pressure – sent a letter to French President Hollande urging him to reject comments made by the CEO of Orange, Stéphane Richard, regarding the Richard’s desire to end the company’s partnership with an Israeli company (due to that company’s activities in settlements.” Roskam blasts the comments as a “discriminatory and deleterious…economic attack against one of America’s closest allies” and urges Hollande to “reject Orange’s efforts to marginalize and economically destabilize Israel.” Roskam’s press release on the letter is here; his separate press release slamming Richard and Orange is here.

(SLAMMING THE UN TREATMENT OF ISRAEL) Cruz letter to Ban Ki-moon:  On 6/3 Cruz (R-TX) sent a letter [press release here] to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon conveying his “outrage that the State of Israel may be added to your list of ‘parties to conflict who commit grave violations against children.’” Cruz slams the UN for even considering this move, noting that “Unlike those parties on your list, Israel cherishes life and goes to extraordinary lengths to minimize civilian casualties during a conflict.” Roskam ends the long defense of Israel’s record with a warning: “Mr. Secretary-General, under no circumstances should Israel be added to your list. As the largest contributor to the United Nations, Congress will have no choice but to reassess the United States’ relationship with the United Nations and consider serious consequences if you choose to take this action.”  [For a perspective that differs slightly from that of Cruz, check out Breaking the Silence’s report on Operation Protective Edge, comprised of testimonies of Israeli soldiers who have actual experience on the ground with the issues in question].

 

2. House ForOps Process Begins    

On 6/3, the House Appropriations Committee’s State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee marked up its version of the FY16 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill (which many of us still refer to simply as the ForOps bill – because SFOPS sounds silly…). Video of markup is here. As always, the bill includes extensive Middle East-related provisions, as summarized below; places where the language differs substantively from the previously-passed ForOps language (which was passed last year as part of the notorious Cromnibus bill, HR 83) are specifically indicated.  The most notable changes are:

-  The elimination of Presidential waiver authority regarding aid to the PA, such that (if this passes into law), all aid to the PA must be cut off if the Palestinians gain membership in any additional UN agency, even if continuing this aid is vital to U.S. national security interests.

-  The addition of a new condition on any Presidential waiver to permit Palestinian representation in Washington (representation that is barred by anachronistic legislation dating back decades). If passed into law, the PLO office in Washington would be shut down if the Palestinians pursue or support action against Israel at the ICC, even if it was in the national security interest of the U.S. to keep it open.

-  An effort to expand the definition of a non-acceptable Palestinian government to one whose formation Hamas has simply acquiesced to, even if Hamas does not exert undue influence over it.

-  The elimination of most remaining conditions on U.S. aid to Egypt.

ForOps Chair Granger (R-TX) refers to all of these changes in her opening statement, here.

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 TITLE I -- DEPARTMENT OF STATE AND RELATED AGENCY

Broadcasting Board of Governors, international broadcasting operations - Perennial language providing $737,991,000 [was $726,657,000 in HR 83], “to carry out international communication activities, and to make and supervise grants for radio and television broadcasting to the Middle East.” Provided that (among other things), “the BBG shall notify the Committees on Appropriations within 15 days of any determination by the Board that any of its broadcast entities, including its grantee organizations, provides an open platform for international terrorists or those who support international terrorism, or is in violation of the principles and standards set forth in subsections (a) and (b) of section 303 of the United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 (22 U.S.C. 6202) or the entity's journalistic code of ethics.” 

Center for Middle Eastern-Western Dialogue Trust Fund:  Perennial provision stating: “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, 2016, to remain available until expended.”

Israeli Arab Scholarship Program: Perennial provision stating: “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, 2016, to remain available until expended.”

TITLE III -- BILATERAL ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE

ECONOMIC SUPPORT FUNDS – ESF (Total: $1,817,315,000)

NOTE:  ESF for Middle East countries is not dealt with in this section of the bill, but left for section 7041 of the bill, dealing with the Middle East as a whole.

MIGRATION AND REFUGEE ASSISTANCE – MRA (Total: $2,092,611,000]

The bill stipulates that “$10,000,000 shall be made available for refugees resettling in Israel.”

TITLE IV - INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE

INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS CONTROL AND LAW ENFORCEMENT – INCLE

The bill stipulates that “the reporting requirements contained in section 1404 of Public Law 110-252 shall apply to funds made available by this Act until September 30, 2016, including a description of modifications, if any, to the security strategy of the Palestinian Authority.

NONPROLIFERATION, ANTI-TERRORISM, DEMINING AND RELATED PROGRAMS – NADR

The bill includes a perennial stipulation that “…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.”

PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS – PKO

The bill stipulates that “…not less than $35,000,000 [was $28,000,000 in HR 83] shall be made available for a United States contribution to the Multinational Force and Observers mission in the Sinai.”

FOREIGN MILITARY FINANCING – FMF (TOTAL: $5,160,559,000]

NOTE: See discussion under Title VII (Section 7041), for all other non-Israel Middle East-related FMF provisions, including Egypt and Jordan.

Israel: The text earmarks “not less than $3,100,000,000 shall be available for grants only for Israel.” It also stipulates that “…funds appropriated under this heading for assistance for Israel shall be disbursed within 30 days of enactment of this Act” and “…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 $815,300,000 shall be available for the procurement in Israel of defense articles and defense services, including research and development.”

NOTE: As highlighted 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 obligated and 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, the U.S. does not have to borrow it until it is needed (meaning less interest paid).  In the case of Israel, the entire $3.1 billion is handed over in a lump sum 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 may be used in Israel or other countries, rather than for the benefit of U.S. industry.

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. 7008: Coups d’état

This is the section that has caused Congress and the Obama Administration a headache over Egypt funding. It states: “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to titles III through VI of this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d’état or decree or, after the date of enactment of this Act, a coup d’état or decree in which the military plays a decisive role.”  It also states that “assistance may be resumed to such government if the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the appropriate congressional committees that subsequent to the termination of assistance a democratically elected government has taken office” and that the prohibition in this section “shall not apply to assistance to promote democratic elections or public participation in democratic processes.”

Sec. 7013: Prohibition on taxation of 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: Notification Requirements

Part (f) of 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 a laundry list of countries, “except as provided through regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.” From the Middle East the list includes (this year): Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Yemen [Bahrain & Egypt were included in HR 83 version].

Sec. 7021:  Prohibition on assistance to governments supporting international terrorism

This provision prohibits the export of lethal military equipment to any foreign government “which provides lethal military equipment to a country the government of which the Secretary of State has determined supports international terrorism…” and prohibits bilateral assistance to any country supports international terrorism, gives sanctuary to terrorist, or is controlled by a terrorist organization.  The section includes national security waivers for both restrictions.

Sec. 7032: Democracy Programs

Part (a) of this section earmarks not less than $2,264,986,000 for democracy programs, (as defined later in this provision).  Part (e) states that funding and programs under this section “shall not be subject to the prior approval by the government of any foreign country.”  Part (f) stipulates: “Funds appropriated by this Act that are made available for democracy programs shall be made available to support freedom of religion, including in the Middle East and North Africa regions.”

Sec. 7034: Special Provisions

Part (l) of this section, entitled “Loan Guarantees and Enterprise Funds,” permits ESF funding to “be made available for the costs…of loan guarantees for Jordan, Ukraine, and Tunisia, which are authorized to be provided…”

Omitted from the Special Provisions are language in HR 83 stipulating that ESF funds may be made available “to establish and operate one or more enterprise funds for Egypt and Tunisia,” subject to various conditions.  Also omitted is a provision entitled “Crowd Control Items,” which in HR 83 stated the funds appropriated by this Act “should not be used for tear gas, small arms, light weapons, ammunition, or other items for crowd control purposes for foreign security forces that use excessive force to repress peaceful expression, association, or assembly in countries undergoing democratic transition.”

Sec. 7035: Arab league boycott of Israel

Perennial Sense of Congress opposing the Arab League boycott of Israel, and the secondary boycott of American firms that have commercial ties with Israel. It is worth noting that this longstanding feature of U.S. law focuses squarely on the Arab Boycott of ISRAEL. Nowhere does it define “Israel” to mean “Israel and territories controlled by Israel,” as is happening today in the context of two pending major trade bills.

Sec. 7036: Palestinian statehood

Perennial provision barring assistance to a Palestinian state that does not meet a series of conditions (includes perennial Presidential waiver authority).

Sec. 7037: Restrictions concerning the Palestinian Authority

Perennial bill language barring U.S. funds for establishing any diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem. 

Sec. 7038: Prohibition on assistance to the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation

Perennial bill language barring any U.S. assistance to the PBC.

Sec. 7039: Assistance for the West Bank and Gaza

Perennial section laying out far-reaching restrictions and conditions, as well as vetting, oversight and audit requirements, for U.S. assistance programs (carried out through non-governmental organizations) in the West Bank and Gaza.

Sec. 7040:  Limitation on Assistance for the Palestinian Authority

Perennial bill language banning U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority, along with Presidential waiver authority. Also bars funding to the PLO.  Also bars any finding for salaries of PA personnel in Gaza or for 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.” This language is a change from HR 83’s formulation, which ends with the clause “and over which Hamas exercises undue influence.” This House formulation, in effect, seeks to make it even harder for the U.S. to support any Palestinian governing entity that has even the tacit approval of Hamas, even if Hamas is not directly involved or exerting influence on it.

That being said, the bill reprises HR 83 language to the effect that the prohibition on supporting a Palestinian unity or reconciliation government does not apply 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.”  It also includes the proviso that, “the President may exercise the authority in section 620K(e) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as added by the Palestine Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-446) with respect to this subsection.” 

For the sake of completeness, Section 620K(b)(1)(A) and (B) of the Foreign Assistance 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: Middle East and North Africa

a. Egypt: 

Overarching conditions on aid:  This section states that U.S. funding for the Government of Egypt “may only be made available if the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that such government is--(A) sustaining the strategic relationship with the United States; and (B) meeting its obligations under the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.”

The FY16 text walks back significantly other conditions placed on aid to Egypt in HR 83.  The previous language made a large portion of assistance to Egypt - $725,850,000 - available ONLY if the Secretary of State certified that the Government of Egypt:

(i) has held free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections;

(ii) is implementing laws or policies to govern democratically and protect the rights of individuals;

(iii) is implementing reforms that protect freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, including the ability of civil society organizations and the media to function without interference;

(iv) it taking consistent steps to protect and advance the rights of women and religious minorities;

(v) is providing detainees with due process of law;

(vi) is conducting credible investigations and prosecutions of the use of excessive force by security forces; and

(vii) has released American citizens who the Secretary of State determines to political prisoners and dismissed all charges against them”

The new House text does not make any aid to Egypt conditional on these steps being taken, but instead merely requires the Secretary to report to Congress every 90 days on the steps the Government of Egypt has taken to implement a similar (but in important ways not identical) list of actions:

(i) hold parliamentary elections [not presidential, not explicitly free and fair];

(ii) protect and advance the rights of women and religious minorities;

(iii) implement laws or policies to govern democratically, protect the rights of individuals, and uphold due process of law;

(iv) implement reforms that protect freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, including the ability of civil society organizations and the media to function without interference; and

(v) improve the transparency and accountability of security forces.”

For further on this, see: Congress seeks to lift last restrictions on aid to Egypt, Al Monitor, 6/2

ESF:  The bill stipulates that “up to $150,000,000 may be made available for assistance for Egypt” and notes that “such funds may also be made available for democracy programs.” The text also notes that such funds “may not be made available for cash transfer assistance or budget support unless the Secretary of State certifies to the appropriate congressional committees that the Government of Egypt is taking significant and consistent steps to stabilize the economy and implement market-based economic reforms.”   

The bill omits earmarks from the $150 million in ESF that were in HR 83 – for higher education ($35 million), of which not less than $10 million was sub-earmarked for “scholarships at not-for-profit institutions for Egyptian students with high financial need.” Also omitted is the HR 83 earmark for “a demonstration project to combat hepatitis C, on a cost matching basis from sources other than the United States Government.” Omitted, too, is language noting that notwithstanding any other provision of law, “funds made available under the heading ‘‘Economic Support Fund’’ in this Act and prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs for assistance for Egypt may be made available for education and economic growth programs, subject to prior consultation with the appropriate congressional committees.”  Likewise, the bill does not include HR 83 language requiring the Secretary of State to withhold from funding for Egypt an amount “equivalent to that expended by the United States Government for bail, and by nongovernmental organizations for legal and court fees, associated with democracy related trials in Egypt until the Secretary certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of Egypt has dismissed the convictions issued by the Cairo Criminal.

FMF:  The bill allocates “up to $1,300,000,000” in FMF for Egypt, and includes the longstanding provision allowing the funds to be transferred to an interest bearing account in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The bill stipulates, as in the past, that not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall consult with the Committees on Appropriations on any plans to restructure military assistance for Egypt.

Omitted from the text is language in HR 83 stipulating that that if Egypt fails to meet specified conditions in this section [because the conditions have been eliminated], funds may still be used “at the minimum rate necessary to continue existing contracts…except that defense articles and services from such contracts shall not be delivered” until these conditions are met. Also omitted is language noting that “not later than 30 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations describing any defense articles withheld from delivery to Egypt as of the date of enactment of this Act” and “not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall consult with the Committees on Appropriations on plans to restructure military assistance for Egypt, including cash flow financing.”

U.S. Citizens convicted in Egypt: This section includes the stipulation, similar to the one in HR 83, that “No conviction issued by the Cairo Criminal Court on June 4, 2013, in ‘Public Prosecution Case No. 1110 for the Year 2012’, against a citizen or national of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States, shall be considered a conviction for purposes of United States law or for any activity undertaken within the jurisdiction of the United States.”

Border Security: Omitted, too, is text included in HR 83 stating that notwithstanding any other restrictions on aid to Egypt, ”funds made available for assistance for Egypt in this Act and prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs may be made available for counterterrorism, border security, and nonproliferation programs in Egypt, and for development activities in the Sinai, if the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the appropriate congressional committees that to do so is important to the national security interest of the United States.”

(b) Iran: This section states the terms and conditions of paragraphs (1) and (2) of section 7041(c) in division I of PL 112-74 shall remain in effect.  These are:

(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).

Omitted is the provision in HR 83 that added to the bill the reporting requirements in section 7043(c) in division F of PL 111–117. These were:

(1) The Secretary of State shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations, not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act and the end of each 90-day period thereafter until September 30, 2010, a report on the status of the bilateral and multilateral efforts aimed at curtailing the pursuit by Iran of nuclear weapons technology.

(2) The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations, not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, a report on the status of bilateral United States and multilateral sanctions against Iran and actions taken by the United States and the international community to enforce sanctions against Iran: Provided, That such report may be submitted in classified form if necessary and shall include the following [long list of required reporting items].

In addition, the bill requires the Secretary of State to:

-  “submit to the appropriate congressional committees, not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act and at the end of each 90-day period thereafter until September 30, 2016, a report on the status of the bilateral and multilateral efforts aimed at curtailing the pursuit by Iran of nuclear weapons technology.

-  (in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury) “submit to the Committees on Appropriations, not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, a report on the status of bilateral United States and multilateral sanctions against Iran and actions taken by the United States and the international community to enforce sanctions against Iran, including for proliferation, terrorism, and human rights violations…”

report to Congress, not later than 30 days after enactment of this Act and at the end of each 30-day period thereafter until September 30, 2016, “on the implementation of the Joint Plan of Action between the P5+1 and the Government of Iran concluded on November 24, 2013, and any extension of or successor to that agreement…”

These reports replace a report required under HR 83 on “the implementation of the Joint Plan of Action between the P5+1 and the Government of Iran concluded on November 24, 2013, and any extension of or successor to that agreement: Provided, That the report shall include the information required in House Report 113–499 and Senate Report 113–195, and may be submitted in classified form if necessary.”

(d) Jordan: This section earmarks “not less than $1,000,000,000” in ESF and FMF for Jordan [the text does not earmark specific amounts for either ESF or FMF]. 

(e) Lebanon:  This section states bars funding “for the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) or the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) if the ISF or the LAF is controlled by a foreign terrorist organization, as designated pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.”  It also stipulates that INCLE and FMF funding “may be made available for programs and equipment for the ISF and the LAF to address security and stability requirements in areas affected by the conflict in Syria, following consultation with the appropriate congressional committees.”  Omitted is the stipulation in HR 83 that ESF for Lebanon may be made available “notwithstanding section 1224 of Public Law 107–228” (Section 1224 of Public Law 107–228 bars aid to Lebanon unless the President certifies that “(1) the armed forces of Lebanon have been deployed to the internationally recognized border between Lebanon and Israel; and (2) the Government of Lebanon is effectively asserting its authority in the area in which such armed forces have been deployed.”)

In addition, the bill states that FMF “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.”  It also prohibits the obligation of assistance to the LAF until “the Secretary of State submits to the Committees on Appropriations a detailed spend plan, including actions to be taken to ensure equipment provided to the LAF is only used for the intended purposes” (noting that this plan is in addition to other notification requirements).  The bill also stipulates that any notification of funding “shall include any funds specifically intended for lethal military equipment.

(f) Libya:  This section bars any assistance to the Government of Libya if that government is controlled by a foreign terrorist organization [a new condition this year] and unless the Secretary of State certifies that such government “is cooperating with United States Government efforts to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the attack on United States personnel and facilities in Benghazi, Libya in September 2012.” It stipulates that this ban on aid does not apply to “funds made available for the purpose of protecting United States Government personnel or facilities.”  The section also sets out other conditions and reporting requirements.

 (g) Morocco:  This section stipulates that funds appropriated under title III of this Act for assistance to Morocco “shall also be made available for any region or territory administered by Morocco, including the Western Sahara.”  It further states that “not later than 45 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall consult with the Committees on Appropriations on the requirements described under this section in the report accompanying this Act.

(h) Syria:  This section [completely unchanged from last year, reflecting the House’s total satisfaction, no doubt, with existing Syria policy and the huge success that policy is showing on the ground] states permits “Funds appropriated under title III of this Act and prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs may be made available notwithstanding any other provision of law for non-lethal assistance for programs to address the needs of civilians affected by conflict in Syria, and for programs that seek to— (A) establish governance in Syria that is representative, inclusive, and accountable; (B) expand the role of women in negotiations to end the violence and in any political transition in Syria; (C) develop and implement political processes that are democratic, transparent, and adhere to the rule of law; (D) further the legitimacy of the Syrian opposition through cross-border programs; (E) develop civil society and an independent media in Syria; (F) promote economic development in Syria; (G) document, investigate, and prosecute human rights violations in Syria, including through transitional justice programs and support for nongovernmental organizations; (H) counter extremist ideologies; and (I) assist Syrian refugees whose education has been interrupted by the ongoing conflict to complete higher education requirements at regional academic institutions.” 

The bill also requires that “Prior to the obligation of funds appropriated by this Act and made available for assistance for Syria, the Secretary of State shall take all practicable steps to ensure that mechanisms are in place for monitoring, oversight, and control of such assistance inside Syria: Provided, That the Secretary of State shall promptly inform the appropriate congressional committees of each significant instance in which assistance provided pursuant to the authority of this subsection has been compromised, to include the type and amount of assistance affected, a description of the incident and parties involved, and an explanation of the Department of State's response.” 

In addition, this year’s text adds that “Funds appropriated by this Act that are made available for assistance for Syria pursuant to the authority of this subsection may only be made available after the Secretary of State, in consultation with the heads of relevant United States Government agencies, submits, in classified form if necessary, an update to the comprehensive strategy required in section 7041(i)(3) of Public Law 113–76.” It also adds that “Funds made available pursuant to this subsection may only be made available following consultation with the appropriate congressional committees, and shall be subject to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.”

(i) West Bank and Gaza: 

General:  Part 1 of this section requires that prior to the obligation of any funds for the West Bank and Gaza, the Secretary of State shall report to Congress that the purpose of such assistance is to:  (A) advance Middle East peace; (B) improve security in the region; (C) continue support for transparent and accountable government institutions; (D) promote a private sector economy; or (E) address urgent humanitarian needs. 

****IMPORTANT CHANGE***** Palestinians at the UN:  Part 2 lays out further limitations on U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority (stipulations that once again appear to be mistakenly placed in this section, which is about the West Bank/Gaza aid program through NGOs, not PA funding; PA funding is dealt with at length in Sec. 7040 of this bill, as discussed above).  In any case, Part 2(A) bars any funding for the PA if “the Palestinians obtain 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” or if “the Palestinians initiate an International Criminal Court judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.” 

HR 83 included a provision allowing the Secretary of State to waive the ban on assistance to the PA in the case where the Palestinians gain status at the UN if he “certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that to do 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.”  No waiver was provided in that bill in the case where the Palestinians go to the ICC. Now, in this year’s bill, there is no waiver for EITHER case – meaning that if the Palestinians gain standing in even one more UN agency, the U.S. would be barred from granting assistance to the PA – even if it was vital U.S. national security interests were involved.

****IMPORTANT CHANGE***** Kicking the PLO Office Out of the U.S.:  Part 2(B) limits the President’s ability to waive longstanding (and entirely anachronistic) law barring the PLO from having any representation in the United States.  Where for decades Congress granted the President a “clean” national security or national interests waiver of that prohibition (contained in section 1003 of Public Law 100-204), this bill, like those of the past two years, makes such waiver conditional on the President being able to certify 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.”

In the new House bill another condition has been added: that the Palestinians “have not, after the date of enactment of this Act, initiated or actively supported an International Criminal Court investigation against Israeli nationals for alleged crimes against Palestinians.” If the president cannot make the required certification, he must wait at least 90 days (during which, presumably, the PLO office has to be shut down), and then he may waive the law requiring him to kick the PLO out of the U.S. – but only for a limited period of time, and only if he can certify that “the Palestinians have entered into direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel [a requirement whose fulfillment is not wholly under the Palestinians’ control].”    

No Funding for Families of Prisoners:  Part 3 of this section requires the Secretary of State to “reduce the amount of assistance made available by this Act under the heading `Economic Support Fund' for the Palestinian Authority by an amount the Secretary determines is equivalent to the amount expended by the Palestinian Authority as payments for acts of terrorism by individuals who are imprisoned after being fairly tried and convicted for acts of terrorism and by individuals who died committing acts of terrorism during the previous calendar year.”  This now no doubted perennial requirement was originally added in the FY15 appropriations cycle, via an amendment offered in committee by Senators Graham (R-SC) and Kirk (R-IL). 

Sec. 7048: United Nations

Part (a) of this now perennial section deals with Transparency and Accountability at the UN.

Part (b) states prohibits funding for anything having to do with any agency, body, or commission associated with the UN presided over by a country that the Secretary of State has determined, according to U.S. law, has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.  The section also permits the Secretary of State to waive this ban if it is in the national interest of the United States. 

Part (c) prohibits U.S. funding to the United Nations Human Rights Council unless the Secretary of State reports that participation in the Council is in the national interest of the United States and that “the Council is taking significant steps to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item.” Such report “shall include a justification for making the determination and a description of the steps taken to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item.” In addition, the section requires that “the Secretary of State shall report to the Committees on Appropriations not later than September 30, 2016, on the resolutions considered in the United Nations Human Rights Council during the previous 12 months, and on steps taken to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item.”

Part (d) states that none MRA funds may be made available as a contribution to URNWA “until the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations [as per the report mandated in the previous year’s ForOps language], in writing, that UNRWA is -- “(1) utilizing Operations Support Officers in the West Bank, Gaza, and other fields of operation to inspect UNRWA installations and reporting any inappropriate use; (2) acting promptly to address any staff or beneficiary violation of its own policies (including the policies on neutrality and impartiality of employees) and the legal requirements under section 301(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961; (3) implementing procedures to maintain the neutrality of its facilities, including implementing a no-weapons policy, and conducting regular inspections of its installations, to ensure they are only used for humanitarian or other appropriate purposes; (4) taking necessary and appropriate measures to ensure it is operating in compliance with the conditions of section 301(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and continuing regular reporting to the Department of State on actions it has taken to ensure conformance with such conditions; (5) taking steps to ensure the content of all educational materials currently taught in UNRWA-administered schools and summer camps is consistent with the values of human rights, dignity, and tolerance and does not induce incitement; (6) not engaging in operations with financial institutions or related entities in violation of relevant United States law, and is taking steps to improve the financial transparency of the organization; and (7) in compliance with the United Nations Board of Auditors’ biennial audit requirements and is implementing in a timely fashion the Board’s recommendations.”

Part (g) requires reporting to Congress on any U.S. contributions to international organizations that are withheld due to any provision of law [for example, U.S. funding to UNESCO, barred because UNESCO admitted the Palestinians as full members].

Sec. 7054: Landmines and Cluster Munitions

Perennial language barring military assistance, expert licenses, or sale of cluster munitions and cluster munitions technology unless the submunitions involved “do not result in more than 1 percent unexploded ordnance” and the applicable assistance/sale agreement “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” or “such assistance, license, sale, or transfer is for the purpose of demilitarizing or permanently disposing of such cluster munitions.”

Sec. 7060: Sector Allocations

Notably omitted from this section is language included in HR 83 (part f of this section) entitled “Reconciliation Programs,” which earmarked not less than $26 million from ESF and Development Assistance funds “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…”  While the bill text did not earmark any funds specifically for the Middle East, the explanatory language accompanying HR 83 earmarked $10 million for Middle East reconciliation programs. [This text was not in the House version of last year’s bill either, just in the report; this may be the case again this year, meaning that the section could still end up in the reconciled House-Senate text].

Sec. 7068: Commercial Leasing of Defense Articles

Perennial provision: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, and subject to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations, the authority of section 23(a) of the Arms Export Control Act may be used to provide financing to Israel, Egypt, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (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. 7076 (b): Spend Plans

“Prior to the initial obligation of funds, the Secretary of State shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations a detailed spend plan for funds made available by this Act, for— (A) assistance for Afghanistan, Colombia, Egypt, Haiti, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mexico, Pakistan, and the West Bank and Gaza…”

 

3. Hearings

6/10: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a CLOSED hearing entitled, “Verification and Assessment: How Do You Create a Successful Inspection Regime?” Briefers (so far) will be: Joseph R. DeTrani, President, Intelligence and National Security Alliance; and Gary Samore, Executive Director for Research, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

6/10: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled, “Iran's Enduring Ballistic Missile Threat.” Scheduled witnesses are: General Michael T. Flynn (Former Director, Defense Intelligence Agency); Robert Joseph (Former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security); David A. Cooper, U.S. Naval War College; and Anthony H. Cordesman, CSIS.

6/3: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing entitled, “Implications of the Iran Nuclear Agreement for U.S. Policy in the Middle East.” Corker opening statement is here; press release here. Witnesses were James Jeffrey, WINEP (testimony) and Martin Indyk, Brookings (testimony). Video of the hearing is here. Comments supportive of a deal from Kaine (D-VA), are here.

6/2: The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing entitled, “Americans Detained in Iran.”  Witnesses were: Ali Rezaian, brother of Jason Rezaian (statement); Nagameh Abedini, wife of Saeed Abedini (statement); Sarah Hekmati, sister of Amir Hekmati (statement); and Daniel Levinson, son of Robert Levinson (statement). Video of the hearing is here.

6/2: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held closed (classified) briefing entitled, “Understanding Iran's Nuclear Program.” Briefers were: Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz; Dr. Bill Goldstein, Director, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Dr. Charlie McMillan, Director, Los Alamos National Laboratory; and Dr. Thom Mason, Director, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

 

4. Members on the Record

Gohmert (R-TX) 6/4: Long rant about Obama’s terrible treatment of Israel at the UN and beyond, and accusing Obama of taking advice from the Muslim Brotherhood (yes, seriously)

Corker (R-TN) 6/3: Iran Never Thought President Obama Would Use Military Option to Halt Nuclear Program

Menendez (D-NJ) 6/3: Menendez on nuclear agreement with Iran

Boehner (R-TX) 5/28: Iran Should Release These Four Americans

Cassidy (R-LA) 5/27: Press release on meeting with PM Netanyahu

 

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