APN Legislative Round-Up: June 20, 2014

1.  Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2.  House FY 15 ForOps – Mideast Elements
3. Senate FY15 ForOps – Mideast Elements
4.  Hearings
5. Members on the Record  
6. From the Press/Blogs

 

Of Special Note:

Lara Friedman op-ed 6/20: Facts on the Ground: Elliot Abrams’ Flawed Defense of Bibi’s Settlement Push

APN launches 6-week campaign: Reclaiming Israel’s future.  This week the issue was settlements.  Next week is Jerusalem.

 

1. Bills, Resolutions, Letters & Confirmations

(BAN AID TO EGYPT) S. 2477:  Introduced 6/17 by Paul (R-KY) and no cosponsors, “A bill to prohibit certain foreign assistance to the Government of Egypt as a result of the July 3, 2013, military coup d'etat.”   Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

(HOUSE FY15 ForOps) XXXX:  On 6/17 the House Appropriations Committee’s State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee held a mark-up of the FY15 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act (aka the ForOps bill).  Video of the mark-up is available here.  During the mark-up, the subcommittee adopted by unanimous voice vote the base text proposed by Chairwoman Granger (R-TX).  Middle East-related elements of that text are detailed in Section 2, below.  Full committee markup of the bill is scheduled for 6/24.

(SENATE FY15 ForOps) S. 2499:  On 6/19, the Senate Appropriations Committee adopted its version of the FY15 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, which was then placed on the Senate calendar.  Middle East-related elements of that text are detailed in Section 3, below.

(FY15 DEFENSE APPROPS) HR 4870:  Introduced 6/13 by Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2015.”  House report here.    Section 8069 of the bill earmarks $619,814,000 for the Israeli Cooperative Programs.  Of this, $350,972,000 is earmarked “for the Secretary of Defense to provide to the Government of Israel for the procurement of the Iron Dome defense system to counter short-range rocket threats”;   $137,934,000 is earmarked for the Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense (SRBMD) program; $74,707,000 is earmarked for “an upper-tier component to the Israeli Missile Defense Architecture”; and $56,201,000 is earmarked for the Arrow System Improvement Program.  As in the past, the section includes language permitting a portion of these funds to be used, effectively, as FMF.  The Committee report notes that the funding for Iron Dome is $175 million above the President's request, and that the remaining $268,842,000 for the Israeli Cooperative Programs is an increase of $172,039,000 above the President's request.  The report notes that with this FY15 recommendation, U.S. funding for Iron Dome will increase to a total of more than $1,070,000.  It also notes Committee concerns that the existing agreement between Israel and the U.S. concerning procuring/producing components in the U.S. does not cover the full amount recommended for FY15, and directs that $175,000,000 of the funds recommended for FY15 may not be obligated or expended until a set of conditions, set out in the Report, are met. The Committee also lays out requirements regarding any FY16 request for Iron Dome funding.  In addition, Sec. 9013 bars funding in the bill from being used “with respect to Syria in contravention of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.), including for the introduction of United States armed or military forces into hostilities in Syria, into situations in Syria where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, or into Syrian territory, airspace, or waters while equipped for combat, in contravention of the congressional consultation and reporting requirements of sections 3 and 4 of that law (50 U.S.C. 1542 and 1543).”  Further coverage of this bill, including amendments, will be included in next week’s Round-Up (this week’s is just toooooo long).

Letters:

(IRAN SANCTIONS RELIEF) Royce-Engel letter:   As discussed in last week’s Round-Up, this week HFAC Chair Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Engel (D-NY) began circulating a colleague calling on the Obama Administration to consult with Congress regarding potential sanctions relief for Iran as part of a deal on Iran’s nuclear program.  Engel-Royce press release is here.  The letter is being supported/lobbied by AIPAC.   Concerns that the letter could be understood as implying that, unless a nuclear deal also includes non‐nuclear elements on the U.S. agenda with Iran, Congress will refuse to lift sanctions, led to a group of 26 organizations (including APN) sending a letter to Royce and Engel urging them to clarify that this is not their intent.  Media reports: Lawmakers want bigger say in Iran deal (The Hill, 6/17); Will Congress get in the Way of an Iran Deal? (The Nation, 6/18).

 

2.  House FY15 ForOps – Mideast Elements

On 6/17 the House Appropriations Committee’s State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee held a mark-up of the FY15 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act (aka the ForOps bill). The draft bill adopted by the committee, without amendment, is here.  Video of the mark-up is available here.  Subcommittee Chairwoman Granger’s (R-TX) opening statement is here.  Full committee markup of the bill is scheduled for 6/24.

It should be noted that, consistent with the ongoing dysfunction in Congress, the last time Congress managed to pass a freestanding ForOps appropriations bill was in November 2005 (to fund FY06 programs).  Since then, successive ForOps bills have either been rolled into eleventh hour consolidated appropriations bills or the relevant programs have been funded under Continuing Resolutions. 

The Middle East-related elements in the draft House text (pre-markup – the bill has not yet been reported out of committee) are laid out in detail below.  The Subcommittee summary/press release on the text is available here.

TITLE I – THE Department of State and Related Agencies

International Broadcasting Operations

The bill earmarks $738,680,000: “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

Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA)

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

TITLE IV – INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE

International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE)

This section stipulates, as in the past, that “the reporting requirements contained in section 1404 of Public Law 110–17 shall apply to funds made available by this Act, including a description of modifications, if any, to the security strategy of the Palestinian Authority.”

Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR)

This section includes 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)

This section earmarks up not less than $28 million to be available for the U.S. contribution to the Multinational Force and Observers mission in the Sinai.

Foreign Military Financing (FMF) – total for the entire program: $5,540,258,000

ISRAEL: The bill earmarks not less than $3.1 billion in 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 $815,300,000 shall be made available for procurement of articles and services in Israel, including research and development.

NOTE: 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, 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.

EGYPT & JORDAN: The text states that “assistance for Jordan and Egypt subject to section 7041 of this Act.”  See General Provisions, below, for details.

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’Etat

This is the language that has caused Congress and the Obama Administration a headache with respect to funding for Egypt since the Morsi government was deposed. This perennial provision explicitly bars U.S. funding to the government of any country “whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d’etat or decree or, after the date of the enactment of this Act, a coup d’etat or decree in which the military plays a decisive role.” The section includes the perennial language permitting the assistance to be resumed “if the President determines…that subsequent to the termination of assistance a democratically elected government has taken office.” It also includes perennial language stipulating that the provisions of this section “shall not apply to assistance to promote democratic elections or public participation in democratic processes.”

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: Notification Requirements.

Provision (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, and Yemen (last year’s bill left out Syria, but included Tunisia and Egypt).

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 interests 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.  In addition, provision (c) bars entry into the U.S. of “Officials of foreign governments and their immediate family members who the Secretary of State has credible information have been involved in significant corruption, including corruption related to the extraction of natural resources, or a gross violation of human rights shall be ineligible for entry into the United States.”  In a provision that could be relevant to things like a future Iranian ambassador to the UN, the section goes on to add that “Individuals shall not be ineligible if entry into the United States would further important United States law enforcement objectives or is necessary to permit the United States to fulfill its obligations under the United Nations Headquarters Agreement” and that “nothing in paragraph (1) shall be construed to derogate from United States Government obligations under applicable international agreements.”  It also grants the Secretary authority to “waive the application of paragraph (1) if the Secretary determines that the waiver would serve a compelling national interest or that the circumstances which caused the individual to be ineligible have changed sufficiently.”

Sec. 7032: Democracy Programs

This section stipulates, among other things, that 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.

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 (a relic of history, having originated years ago when Yasser Arafat was threatening to unilaterally declare a state) 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.

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 is a perennial (and perennially expanding) section of conditions and restrictions on assistance to the PA; other conditions/restrictions, including a brand-new one this year, are stipulated in Sec. 7041(j), in what appears to be a bill drafting error (that section pertains to the West Bank/Gaza aid programs for the Palestinian people, not funding for the Palestinian Authority).

- Part (a) of this section bars any aid to the PA, period.

- Part (b) provides the president the authority to waive that ban if he deems it important for U.S. national interests. 

- Parts (c), (d), and (e) then lay out the extensive conditions the President must fulfill if he decides to use the waiver (including conditions that are, in effect, limitations on when he can use the waiver, U.S. interests notwithstanding).

- Part (f) deals with Hamas and the PLO.  With respect to Hamas, it stipulates 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.”  NOTE  Last year and the year before, the House version of this bill included this same language with respect to Hamas – language written to effectively scuttle not only a unity government that includes Hamas members, but also any technocratic government that includes no Hamas members but would be agreeable to both Fatah and Hamas. The final wording of the section, as eventually passed into law twice as part of the Consolidated Appropriations bill, added the words “over which Hamas exercises undue influence” at the end of the last sentence, leaving some room open for U.S. support for a genuine technocratic government. This year – in the wake of a reconciliation that produced exactly this – the committee appears to be making clear that it will not take “yes” for an answer, opting again go with the “no Palestinian compromise will be tolerated” route.

The subsequent paragraphs (now perennial language) 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,  as follows:

---- Sec. 7041(a) EGYPT

Overall condition 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 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.

ESF:  The bill stipulates that under ESF, “up to $200,000,000 may be made available for assistance for Egypt” [compared to $150 in FY14].   It stipulates further that “such funds may also be made available for democracy programs.”  It also states that notwithstanding any provision of law restricting assistance for Egypt, ESF in this bill and prior acts “may be made available for education and economic growth programs,” but 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 steps to stabilize the economy and implement market-based economic reforms.”  Finally, it notes that the Secretary of State “may reduce the amount of assistance for the central Government of Egypt under the heading ‘‘Economic Support Fund’’ by an amount the Secretary determines is 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.”

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 text stipulates that if Egypt fails to meet specified conditions in this section (related to elections and democracy, discussed below), 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.   In addition, the bill requires the Secretary of State to 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.” 

Other stipulations:  The bill stipulates that prior year funding for Egypt may go ahead, notwithstanding any provision of law restricting assistance for Egypt, except that prior year FMF “shall only be made available at the minimum rate necessary to continue existing contracts, and following consultation with the Committees on Appropriations.”  It also notes that notwithstanding any provision of law restricting assistance for 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.” 

Conditions on FY15 Funds:  The bill stipulates that ESF, IMET, and FMF funding for Government of Egypt may be made available notwithstanding any provision of law restricting assistance for Egypt as follows:  (A) up to $975,000,000 may be made available if the Secretary of State certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of Egypt has held parliamentary elections and is taking steps to support a democratic transition in Egypt; and

(B) up to $526,700,000 may be made available if the Secretary of State certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of Egypt is taking steps to govern democratically.

---- Sec. 7041(b) IRAN

This section sets out U.S policy as being “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– 172).” The section also requires extensive reporting to Congress on the status of bilateral and multilateral sanctions efforts, current and planned.   

In addition, the section stipulates: “The President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees, not later than 30 days after enactment of this Act and at the end of each 30-day period thereafter until September 30, 2015, a report 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 requirements under this subsection in the report accompanying this Act, and may be submitted in classified form if necessary.”

---- Sec. 7041(d) Jordan

This section earmarks not less than $360 million in ESF and not less than $300 million in FMF for Jordan.  It also states that “from amounts appropriated for Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism, $340,000,000 shall be made available for the extraordinary costs related to instability in the region.” 

---- 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 designated pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.”  It stipulates further that FMF for Lebanon appropriated under 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: Provided, That funds may not be made available for obligation for assistance for the LAF until the Secretary of State submits a detailed spend plan, including actions to be taken to ensure that equipment provided to the LAF is used only for the intended purposes, to the Committees on Appropriations…”

---- Sec. 7041(f) LIBYA

This section states that no funds may be made available for the government of Libya unless the Secretary of State certifies that the 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.” The section goes on to add that this limitation does not apply to funds provided “for the purpose of protecting United States Government facilities or personnel.

---Sec. 7041(g) LOAN GUARANTEES

This section stipulates that ESF in this Act may be made available for costs of loan guarantees for Tunisia and Jordan.

---- Sec. 7041(hg) MOROCCO

This section states that funding for Morocco appropriated under title III of this act “shallalso  be made available for any region or territory administered by Morocco, including the Western Sahara.”

---- Sec. 7041(ih) SYRIA

This section states:

“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) develop and implement political processes that are democratic, transparent, and adhere to the rule of law;

(C) further the legitimacy of the Syrian opposition through cross-border programs;

(D) develop civil society and an independent media in Syria;

(E) promote economic development in Syria;

(F) document, investigate, and prosecute human rights violations in Syria, including through transitional justice programs and support for nongovernmental organizations; and

(G) counter extremist ideologies.”

It states that prior to the obligation of funds for Syria, “the Secretary of State shall take all appropriate steps to ensure that mechanisms are in place for the adequate monitoring, oversight, and control of such assistance inside Syria” and notes that funding for Syria may only be provided if the Secretary of State meets various consultation and reporting requirements laid out by Congress in law.

---- Sec. 7041(j) 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.

Palestinians at the UN:  Part 2 of this section lays out further limitations on U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority (stipulations that appear to be mistakenly placed in this section, which is about the West Bank/Gaza aid program, not PA funding).  In any case, the bill includes language (introduced in the prior year) barring 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 “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.”

Kicking the PLO Office Out of the U.S.:  The bill also 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 text, like last year’s, makes such waiver contingent on the President certifying 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 cannot make that certification, he may still waive the prohibition but only if he can certify instead that “the Palestinians have entered into direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”   

No Funding For Families of Prisoners:  In addition, the bill includes a brand-new provision going after PA funding.  This provision states that in the event that the PA qualifies for funding at all (i.e., no unity government), aid to the PA will still be reduced “by an amount the Secretary determines is equivalent to that expended by the Palestinian Authority in payments to individuals and the families of such individuals that are imprisoned for acts of terrorism or who died committing such acts during the previous calendar year.”  Pressure has been building in Congress for months to take action on this issue (as has been documents in the Round-Up), egged on by right-wing Israelis and some outside groups.  NOTE:  The logic behind this provision appears to be that by granting financial assistance to families of people in Israeli jails, the PA is in effect encouraging/subsidizing/incentivizing terror against Israel. 

---- Sec. 7041(k) YEMEN

This section stipulates that no U.S. to Yemen may be made available for the Armed Forces of Yemen “if such forces are controlled by a foreign terrorist organization, as designated pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Sec. 7048: LIMITATIONS ON THE UNITED NATIONS

Section 7048(a) conditions U.S. funding to the UN on transparency and accountability requirements. 

Section 7048(b) bars U.S. funding to pay expenses for any U.S. delegation to any UN agency, body, or commission that is chaired by a country whose government supports international terrorism.  It also bars U.S. contributions to any UN organization, agency, or program that is chaired or presided over by a country whose government has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.

Section 7048(c) bars U.S, funding of the UN Human Rights Council unless the Secretary of State determines that “participation in the Council is in the national security interest of the United States and that the Council is taking steps to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item” – and justifies this determination in a report to Congress.

Section 7048(d) bars U.S. funding under the MRA account for UNRWA until the Secretary of State determines and reports to Congress that UNRWA has met a list of conditions.

 Section 7048(f) states that the restrictions imposed in subsections (a)-(d) “may be waived on a case-by-case basis by the Secretary of State if the Secretary determines ad report to the Committees on Appropriations that such waiver is necessary to avert a humanitarian crisis.”

Sec. 7054: LANDMINES AND CLUSTER MUNITIONS

This section states that demining equipment used in support of the clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance for humanitarian purposes “may be disposed of on a grant basis to foreign countries…”  This section also lays out limitations on the provision of military assistance for cluster munitions, the issuance of defense export license for cluster munitions, and the sale or transfer of cluster munitions or cluster munitions technology.

Sec. 7068: COMMERCIAL LEASING OF DEFENSE ARTICLES

This section provides for 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 BUDGET DOCUMENTS

This section requires that prior to the initial obligation of funds, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations a detailed spend plan for funds made available by this Act, for assistance for Afghanistan, Colombia, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mexico, Pakistan, the West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen.

3.  Senate FY15 ForOps – Mideast Elements

On 6/19 the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up and adopted its version of the FY15 ForOps Approps bill, with amendments (including a Managers’ package of amendments),  An audio webcast of the markup is available here.  The bill was subsequently out of committee as S. 2499 with a written report, No. 113-195.   The press release and summary of the bill is here

Mideast-related details of that bill are covered below.   Reporting from Al-Monitor on key Middle East elements of the bill can be found here and here.

Details of the bill

TITLE I -- DEPARTMENT OF STATE AND RELATED AGENCY

Broadcasting Board of Governors, international broadcasting operations

The bill provides $716,460,000, “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 (Bill language):  “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, 2015, to remain available until expended.”

Israeli Arab Scholarship Program (Bill language): “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, 2015, to remain available until expended.”

TITLE III -- BILATERAL ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE

ECONOMIC SUPPORT FUNDS – ESF

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)

The bill stipulates that “$10,000,000 of the funds appropriated under this heading 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, including a description of modifications, if any, to the Palestinian Authority's security strategy…”

Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining and Related programs (NADR)

The bill stipulates 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 $28,000,000 of the funds appropriated under this heading shall be made available for a United States contribution to the Multinational Force and Observers mission in the Sinai, and not less than $6,000,000 of the funds appropriated under this heading in this Act and prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs may be made available to address force protection requirements.”

FOREIGN MILITARY FINANCING (FMF)

NOTE: FMF for all Middle East countries (other than Israel) 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.

Israel:  The bill stipulates that “not less than $3,100,000,000 shall be available for grants only for Israel” and stipulated 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: For analysis of the implications of those last two provisos, see the discussion of the House version of the bill.

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’etat

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'etat or decree or, after the date of enactment of this Act, a coup d'etat 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): Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria (new this year) Tunisia, and Yemen.

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 a 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) of this section stipulates that “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 (m) of this section, entitled “Crowd Control Items” bars funding 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.”

Part (n) of this section in last year’s version of the bill dealt with the Palestinians at the UN; that section has been shifted to Sec. 7041 and, in an apparent drafting error, there is no Part (n) under Sec. 7034.

Part (s) of this section, entitled “Loan Guarantees and Enterprise Funds,” permits ESF funding in the bill to “be made available to establish and operate one or more enterprise funds for Egypt and Tunisia,” subject to existing conditions. 

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,

Sec. 7036: Palestinian statehood

Perennial provision barring assistance to a Palestinian state that does not meet a series of conditions (includes 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. programs 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 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 and over which Hamas exercises undue influence.” [NOT the same as the House version, in a repeat of last year’s exercise].  The latter prohibition 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.”  Also, “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 details about what these legal references mean, see the analysis of the House ForOps bill).  This section also bars any assistance to the PLO.

Sec. 7041: Middle East and North Africa

(a) EGYPT

Overall condition on aid:  This section states that U.S. funding for the Government of Egypt “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.”  (same as House text).

ESF:  The Committee recommended a $50 million cut in ESF for Egypt (compared to the House version).  The bill stipulates that under ESF, “up to $150,000,000 may be made available for assistance for Egypt [the House earmarked $200 million], of which not less than $35,000,000 should be made available for higher education programs including not less than $10,000,000 for scholarships at not-for-profit institutions for Egyptian students with high financial need: Provided, That such funds may also be made available for democracy programs: Provided further, That such funds shall be made available for a demonstration project to combat hepatitis C, on a cost matching basis from sources other than the United States Government.”  The section also stipulates that funding “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 economic reforms.”  It also states: “The Secretary of State shall reduce the amount of assistance for the central Government of Egypt under the heading `Economic Support Fund' in this Act by an amount the Secretary determines is 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.”

FMF:  The Committee recommended a $300 million cut in FMF for Egypt (compared to FY14). The bill allocates “up to $1,000,000,000” 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 text stipulates that if Egypt fails to meet specified conditions in this section (related to elections and democracy, discussed below), 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.   In addition, the bill stipulates that the Secretary of State “shall not initiate any new cash flow financing contracts for defense articles and services for Egypt.”

Other stipulations:  The bill stipulates that prior year funding for Egypt may go ahead, notwithstanding any provision of law restricting assistance for Egypt, except that prior year FMF “shall only be made available at the minimum rate necessary to continue existing contracts, and following consultation with the Committees on Appropriations.”  It also notes that notwithstanding any provision of law restricting assistance for Egypt, “up to $300,000,000 of the funds made available by this Act for assistance for Egypt may be made available for development programs in the Sinai, nonproliferation programs, and for counterterrorism and border security, if the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the appropriate congressional committees that to do so is important to the national security interests of the United States.” 

Conditions on FY15 Funds:  The bill stipulates that ESF, IMET (International Military Education and Training), and FMF funding for Government of Egypt may be made available notwithstanding any provision of law restricting assistance for Egypt as follows:  (A) up to $975,000,000 may be made available if the Secretary of State certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of Egypt has held parliamentary elections and is taking steps to support a democratic transition in Egypt; and (B) up to $575,500,000 may be made available only if the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that--

(i) Egypt has held free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections and a newly elected Government of Egypt is implementing policies to govern democratically; and

(ii) the Government of Egypt--

(I) has released American citizens who are considered by the Secretary of State to be political prisoners and dismissed charges against them;

(II) is providing United States Government officials, independent journalists, and human rights organizations access to the Sinai;

(III) has released all persons detained for exercising their rights to free expression, association, and peaceful assembly, including journalists and those detained solely for membership in social or political organizations;

(IV) is providing detainees with due process of law consistent with international norms;

(V) has adopted and is implementing necessary laws or regulations to protect freedoms of expression, association, and assembly, including the ability of civil society organizations and the media to function without interference, consistent with international norms;

(VI) is conducting credible criminal investigations and prosecutions of the use of excessive force by security forces, including those responsible in the chain of command, since June 30, 2013; and

(VII) is taking steps to protect the rights of women and religious minorities;

(b) IRAN: This section states that funds in the bill “shall be made available for the promotion of democracy and human rights in Iran”, in consultation with Congress.  It requires that “prior to obligating such funds, the Secretary of State shall consult with the appropriate congressional committees on the policy and strategy of the United States to promote democracy and human rights in Iran.”  It also re-imposes previously-adopted terms and conditions, including reporting requirements, but updates them to reflect the current Iran diplomatic effort.  Part 3 of this section is the language added during the full Committee markup, courtesy of an amendment offered by Kirk (R-IL) and included in the Managers package of amendments, earmarking $32 million in ESF for “programs to promote democracy and human rights in Iran, which shall be the responsibility of the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Department of State.”

(d) JORDAN: This section earmarks “not less than $360,000,000” in ESF and  “not less than $300,000,000” in FMF  for Jordan.  It also earmarks “not less than $340,000,000” in Title VIII funding in the bill (Overseas Contingency Operations – OCO) “for the extraordinary costs related to instability in the region, including for security requirements along the border with Iraq and Syria.”

(e) LEBANON:  This section states bars funding “for Lebanese law enforcement personnel or the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) if such law enforcement personnel 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 Lebanese law enforcement personnel and the LAF to address security and stability requirements in areas affected by the conflict in Syria, following consultation with the appropriate congressional committees.” Also stipulates 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,” and requires that before obligation assistance to the LAW, “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).  Also states that any notification of funding “shall include any funds specifically intended for lethal military equipment.

(f) LIBYA:  This section permits funding for assistance to Libya for programs to: “(A) strengthen democracy in Libya, including civil society; (B) enhance the capacity of key ministries necessary for maintaining security and stability; (C) address immediate humanitarian needs arising from conflict; (D) strengthen the rule of law, including judicial and security sector reforms; (E) professionalize military personnel associated with the Libyan state; and (F) counter extremist ideologies.”  Such funding should be on a cost-matching basis and subject to stipulated reporting and oversight requirements.  The bill also requires a report to Congress on claims filed pursuant to the Libyan Claims Resolution Act.

(g) MOROCCO:  This section stipulates that “Funds appropriated by this Act and prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs under the heading `Foreign Military Financing Program' may not be used to procure defense articles or services for use in the territory of the Western Sahara.”

(h) SYRIA:  This section states permits funding “for humanitarian and other 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.”  Such funding is subject to consultation with Congress and regular notification requirements.  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 appropriate steps to ensure that mechanisms are in place for the adequate 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.”  The bill also stipulates that “Section 7032(c)(3) of this Act shall not apply to programs implemented by the Office of Transition Initiatives, United States Agency for International Development, relating to the conflict in Syria.” This last stipulation is mysterious, since in the current version of the bill, Section 7032(c) only has parts 1 and 2.

(i) WEST BANK & 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.

Palestinians at the UN:  Part 2 of this section lays out further limitations on U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority (stipulations that appear to be mistakenly placed in this section, which is about the West Bank/Gaza aid program, not PA funding).  In any case, the bill includes language (introduced in the prior year) barring 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 “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.” Notably, the bill provides the Secretary of State the authority to waive the ban on assistance to the PA in the case where the Palestinians gain status at the UN (but NOT if they go to the ICC etc), if he “certifies and reports 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.”

Kicking the PLO Office Out of the U.S.:  The bill also 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 text, like last year’s, makes such waiver contingent on the President certifying that “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 cannot make that certification, he may still waive the law requiring him to kick the PLO out of the U.S., but only if he can certify instead that “the Palestinians have entered into direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”   

No Funding for Families of Prisoners:  This section mirrors the House text, requiring the Secretary of State “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.”  It was added to the bill during the full committee markup, as an amendment offered by Graham (R-SC) and Kirk (R-IL).  The amendment was accepted by ForOps Chairman Leahy and adopted by unanimous voice vote.

Sec. 7048: United Nations

Part (a) of this 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, provided that “the Secretary of State shall report to the Committees on Appropriations not later than September 30, 2015, 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) 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

States that prior year law regarding landmines and cluster munitions continues to be in effect during FY15.

Sec. 7060: Sector Allocations

Part (a) of this section, “Basic and Higher Education,” sub-section 4 states that “For purposes of funds appropriated under title III of this Act, the term `democracy programs' in section 7032(c)(1) of this Act shall also include programs to rescue scholars, and fellowships, scholarships, and exchanges in the Middle East and North Africa region for academic professionals and university students from countries in such region, subject to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.”

Part (b) of this section, “Countering Violent Extremism,” states that “Funds appropriated by titles III, IV, and VIII of this Act may be made available for programs to reduce support for foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs), as designated pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, through messaging campaigns to damage their appeal; programs for potential supporters of violent extremism; counter radicalization and rehabilitation programs in prisons; job training and social reintegration for former supporters of FTOs; law enforcement training programs; and capacity building for civil society organizations to combat radicalization in local communities: Provided, That for purposes of this subsection the term `countering violent extremism' shall be defined as non-coercive interventions aimed directly at reducing public support for FTOs...”

Part (f) of this section, “Reconciliation Programs,” earmarks not less than $25 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…”  Unlike in past years, no portion of this funding is specifically earmarked for the Middle East.

Sec. 7064: Operating and Spend Plans

This section requires that the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Administrator of USAID, submit to Congress “a detailed spend plan” for funding for assistance to a list of countries, including  Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, the West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen.

Sec. 7068: Commercial Leasing of Defense Articles

This section stipulates that prior year law continues to apply in FY15 with respect to commercial leasing of defense articles.

Report Language

Iran:  “The Committee condemns actions by the Government of Iran which contribute to instability in the Near East region, particularly in Syria and Lebanon. The Committee remains concerned with the danger Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon poses to the United States and regional allies. The act continues the terms and conditions of section 7041(b) of division K of Public Law 113–76 with modifications, and provides that funds appropriated under titles I and III of this act shall be made available to promote democracy and human rights in Iran. The Committee is concerned with Pastor Saeed Abedini who remains imprisoned in Tehran, Iran, and urges the Secretary of State to seek Pastor Abedini’s release and to keep the Committee informed of his health and welfare. The Committee directs the Secretary of State to submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees not later than 180 days after enactment of this act detailing the steps taken by the Secretary and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations to implement section 415 of Public Law 112–158. Not later than 45 days after enactment of the act, and every 90 days thereafter until September 30, 2015, the President shall submit a report (in classified form as necessary) to the appropriate congressional committees on the interim agreement relating to Iran’s nuclear program, including any successor to such agreement, including: verification that Iran is complying with such agreement; an assessment of the overall state of Iran’s nuclear program and projected breakout time for Iran to have the necessary fuel for one weapon; an assessment of existing inspection and verification measures to detect Iran’s ability to cheat on such agreement (including by acquiring nuclear capabilities from abroad); any plans considered or steps taken by the administration and the international community to improve such inspection and verification measures; and steps taken by the United States to strengthen the security of allies in the region.”

Syria. “The conflict in Syria is complex and protracted, requiring significant resources from the United States for the foreseeable future to address the humanitarian needs of millions of displaced Syrians, and to ensure economic and political stability in neighboring countries. The Committee is aware that absent support for Syrian refugees and communities inside Syria that are not under the control of Damascus, a targeted response against Islamic extremists, and organizational and technical support for the moderate Syrian opposition, security and stability in neighboring countries could quickly erode. Section 7041(h) of this act provides a framework for assistance for Syria. The Committee strongly supports programs to address the needs of Syrian IDPs and refugees, particularly women and children and persons with disabilities. The Committee supports an integrated humanitarian and development approach to meet the requirements of refugees and host communities. The Committee directs the Department of State to ensure that women are included in negotiations to end the conflict, as appropriate. The Committee directs the Department of State and USAID, in cooperation with relevant United Nations [U.N.] agencies and organizations, to include mental health and psychosocial support services as a core component in programs addressing the needs of Syrian refugees, to be implemented according to Inter-Agency Standing Committee Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings.  The Committee supports the efforts of the U.S. Senior Advisor for Assistance for Syria to coordinate the U.S. response to the crisis. The Committee expects offices and bureaus of the Department of State and USAID to follow the leadership and guidance of the Advisor, including for activities inside Syria. The Committee recognizes the limitations of oversight for assistance provided to Syrian civil society organizations operating inside Syria, but the efforts of these organizations are essential to enable a civilian political alternative to the current regime to emerge. The Committee directs the Department of State to develop and implement a policy to support accountability for crimes against humanity and other violations of human rights in Syria. Not later than 45 days after enactment of this act, the Secretary of State shall consult with the appropriate congressional committees on options for assisting Syrian refugees whose education has been disrupted by the conflict to continue their education, including completing degrees at regional universities and other institutions.

Visas for Israelis:  The report requires that “Not later than 45 days after enactment of this act, the Secretary of State shall consult with the Committee on steps taken to investigate and address the increase in tourist visa rejection rates in Israel from 2009 to 2013, and in Poland from 2012 to 2013.”

United Nations Budget and Voting Practices : The report states that “In considering assistance for a foreign government and the assessed and voluntary U.S. contributions for the United Nations, the Secretary of State should review, among other factors, the voting practices of such government at the United Nations in relation to U.S. strategic interests.”  It also notes that the President’s budget did not request any funding for UNESCO, which in any case is prohibited by law, and none is provided.

Economic Support Funds

Bahrain: “The Committee directs that not less than $3,500,000 of the funds appropriated under this heading be made available for programs and activities to promote reconciliation, democratic reform, and adherence to international human rights and labor rights standards in Bahrain.”

Egypt: In addition to what is in the bill, “The Committee directs the Secretary of State to request that the Government of Egypt make publicly available a list of individuals detained since July 3, 2013, their place of detention, the charges against them, and provide access to detainees for international humanitarian organizations. The Committee condemns the treatment of women and girls in Egypt, and expects the newly elected Government of Egypt to make protection of women and girls a priority. The Committee also expects such government to protect the rights of religious minorities. The Committee requests the USAID Administrator to consult with the Committee on a demonstration project to combat hepatitis-C, on a cost matching basis from sources other than the U.S. Government. The Committee is concerned with the potential impact of politically motivated prosecutions and convictions of U.S. NGO personnel in Egypt, which could unjustly tarnish their reputations and complicate future work and travel if they were required to report, without exception, criminal records that were fundamentally flawed or illegitimate. The Committee directs the Department of State to take all available administrative steps to protect such individuals, and to consult with the Committee on such steps including ways to assist other U.S. NGO or contractor personnel in similar circumstances in other countries. Not later than 90 days after enactment of this act, the Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a comprehensive, multi-year strategic review of military assistance for Egypt and a comprehensive, multi-year strategic review of economic assistance for Egypt.”

Jordan:  The report notes that Section 7041(d) “provides a total of $1,000,000,000 for assistance for Jordan. The Committee supports the renegotiation of the memorandum of understanding [MOU] with Jordan at levels of funding that reflect the costs related to instability in the region, including border security requirements, budget support, and energy dependence. The Committee continues support for humanitarian assistance under the MRA heading for Syrian and other refugees in Jordan. The Committee recognizes the importance of the Red Sea-Dead Sea water project for Jordan, and requests the Secretary of State to consult with the Committee on the feasibility of a U.S. contribution, from funds under this heading that are available for assistance for Jordan, to a portion of the project to help leverage contributions from other international donors and financial institutions.”

Lebanon. “The Committee recognizes the economic and social strains caused by Syrian refugees in Lebanon at the national and local levels. Section 7041(e) of this act continues restrictions in current law on assistance for Lebanon, and funds under the INCLE and FMF headings may be made available to address security and stability requirements in areas affected by the conflict in Syria. The Committee recommends that of the assistance appropriated under this heading for Lebanon, $12,000,000 be made available for scholarships for students in Lebanon with high financial need to attend not-for-profit educational institutions in Lebanon that meet standards comparable to those required for American accreditation. All students should be eligible for scholarships based on need, academic record, and potential to contribute to the long-term political, economic, and social development of Lebanon.”

Middle East Partnership Initiative and Middle East Regional Cooperative: “The Committee recommends the President’s budget request for MEPI and the fiscal year 2014 level for MERC.”

MENA Initiative: “The Committee directs the Secretary of State to consult with the Committee on the parameters of the MENA Initiative prior to the obligation of funds.”

MEPI Scholarships: “The Committee recommends $10,000,000 to continue scholarships for students in countries with significant Muslim populations at not-for-profit institutions of higher education, in a manner consistent with prior fiscal years and the awarding of funds should be through an open and competitive process.”

West Bank: In addition to all the reporting and oversight requirements in the bill, “The Committee directs the Secretary of State to submit a report to the Committee prior to the initial obligation of funds under this heading, detailing and assessing the capabilities of the Palestinian Authority to manage and conduct effective oversight of U.S. assistance in accordance with section 7040(f) of this act. The Secretary of State shall consult with the appropriate congressional committees should circumstances preclude direct and meaningful negotiations pursuant to section 7041(i)(2)(B)(ii) of this act.”

Reconciliation Programs: “The Committee recommends not less than $25,000,000 under this heading and the DA heading for reconciliation programs and activities which bring together and facilitate direct communication between individuals of different ethnic, religious and political backgrounds in countries affected by civil strife and war, including in the Middle East and North Africa. Funds should be leveraged to obtain contributions from other donors and governments to the maximum extent practicable.”

Scholar Rescue: “Section 7032(c) of this act provides authority to use funds for programs to rescue scholars from Iraq, Syria, and other countries denying freedom of expression, and the Committee’s expectation is that such scholars would leave their country only temporarily and return home when conditions permit.”

Report: “The Committee directs the Secretary of State to fulfill the reporting requirement relating to UNRWA under the Protracted Refugee Situations subheading in Senate Report 112–172, as referenced under the MRA heading in Senate Report 113–81, in a timely manner.” This requirement was added to the report during the full committee markup, as an amendment from Kirk (R-IL) that was adopted as part of the Managers package of amendments.   NOTE:  The report in question first showed up as a requirement back in 2012, as part of an effort by some in Congress to “resolve” the Palestinian refugee issue by in effect defining the Palestinian refugees out of existence (a goal Kirk appears to still support).  For comprehensive coverage of that original effort, see the 5/25/12 edition of the Round-Up.

IMET funding

Saudi Arabia: “The Committee is concerned with the continued detention of blogger and journalist Hamza Kashgari in Saudi Arabia, who was arrested in February 2012.”

FMF

Bahrain:  “The Committee notes the importance of Bahrain to the security interests of the United States and allies in the region. However, the Committee remains concerned that actions by the Government of Bahrain to limit freedoms of expression, association and assembly, and reports of excessive force, unfair trials, and mistreatment of prisoners negatively impact bilateral relations. The Committee intends that no crowd control items shall be provided to Bahrain during fiscal year 2015, and notes that none are included in the President’s budget request. The Committee directs that the report required by section 7010 of this act shall include a description of any such items provided to foreign security forces.”

Crowd Control Items:  “Section 7034(m) of this act continues restrictions on the provision of crowd control items for foreign security forces that use excessive force to repress peaceful expression and association in countries undergoing democratic transition. The Committee notes that section 620M of the FAA prohibits such assistance to any unit of a foreign security force that has committed a gross violation of human rights.”

Jordan: “Section 7041(d) of this act provides $300,000,000 for assistance for Jordan under this heading, and the Secretary of State shall consult with the Committee on additional FMF assistance that may be provided under title VIII of this act. In addition, the Secretary of State shall consult with the Committee on additional funding requirements that may arise from a further deterioration of regional stability caused by the situation in Syria.”

Lebanon:  “Section 7041(e) of this act continues restrictions on assistance for Lebanon under this heading, and encourages the use of funds to expand the presence of the Lebanese Armed Forces and police in communities with significant Syrian refugee populations. The Secretary of State shall consult with the Committee on additional funding requirements that may arise from a further deterioration of regional stability caused by the situation in Syria.”

Morocco: “The Committee notes that Morocco is a strategic ally in North Africa where the United States has an interest in preventing terrorism and promoting democracy. The Committee directs the Secretary of State to update the report required by section 7041(g) of division I of Public Law 112–74, to include steps taken during the previous 12 months by the Government of Morocco to release political prisoners and support a human rights monitoring and reporting role for the U.N. Mission in Western Sahara in cooperation with the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. Funds in this act may not be used to procure defense articles or services for use in the territory of the Western Sahara.”

Overseas Contingency Operations

INTERNATIONAL DISASTER ASSISTANCE

The Committee recommends $1,235,000,000 for International Disaster Assistance for the extraordinary costs of the U.S. response to humanitarian crises resulting from conflict, including in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, and countries in Africa, and is designated for OCO.

COMPLEX CRISES FUND

The Committee recommends $217,882,000 for Complex Crises Fund for the extraordinary costs of responding to humanitarian and security crises and political transitions globally, including in the Middle East and North Africa, and Central America, and is designated for OCO. Section 8003 of this act provides authority to transfer such funds to, and merge with, funds under the PKO and CIPA headings under this title.

ECONOMIC SUPPORT FUND

The Committee recommends $1,660,000,000 for Economic Support Fund for the extraordinary costs of operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and Central America, and is designated for OCO.

MIGRATION AND REFUGEE ASSISTANCE

The Committee recommends $1,912,000,000 for Migration and Refugee Assistance for the extraordinary costs of the U.S. response to humanitarian crises, including in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa, and is designated for OCO.

INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS CONTROL AND LAW ENFORCEMENT

The Committee recommends $292,000,000 for International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement for the extraordinary costs of contingency operations, including in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, the Middle East, Africa, Central America, and for counterterrorism programs, and is designated for OCO.

NONPROLIFERATION, ANTI-TERRORISM, DEMINING AND RELATED PROGRAMS

The Committee recommends $85,225,000 for Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs for the extraordinary costs of contingency operations, including in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, and for counterterrorism programs, and is designated for OCO.

TRANSITION FUND

The Committee recommends $5,000,000 for Transition Fund, a new multi-donor trust fund for extraordinary costs to assist Arab countries in transition, including Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco, Libya, and Yemen.

4. Hearings

6/24:  The House Appropriations Committee (Full committee) will mark up the FY15 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill. 

6/19: The House Armed Services Committee held a hearing entitled, “P5+1 Negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Program and Its Implications for United States Defense.”  Witnesses were:  Thomas Pickering, Brookings (statement); Michael Singh, WINEP (statement); and William Tobey, Harvard Kennedy School (statement).

6/19: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa and Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations held a joint subcommittee hearing entitled, “One Year Under Rouhani: Iran's Abysmal Human Rights Record.”  Video of the hearing is available here. Witnesses were: Robert George, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (statement); Cler Baheri, Member of the Baha’i Community (statement); Hossein Alizadeh, International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (statement); and Amir Hossein Etemadi, Former Iranian political prisoner (statement).

5. Members on the Record

(Next week’s Round-Up will include Members on the Record that didn’t make it into this week’s edition)

McCain (R-AZ) and Graham (R-SC) 6/19: Speaking on foreign policy, including Iraq, Syria, and the region

Rubio (R-FL) 6/19:  Speaking on Iraq, and implications for Israel, Syria, Jordan, etc.

Paulsen (R-MN) 6/19: Statement on West Bank Kidnapping

Schumer (D-NY) 6/18: Statement on Kidnapping of Israeli Teenagers

Gohmert (R-TX) 6/18: Another Islam/Middle East-focused rant (appearing to indicate that he doesn’t understand that Iraq turned out not to have WMD, or that Khomeini died in 1989…)  On that subject, he notes, “We should just make it clear to a country: Look, you can pick whatever government you want, but when you are a threat to us and you announce you want to destroy us as the great Satan, destroy Israel as the little Satan, and you are working on the bomb that will do that, then we need to take your government out. We need to take out all of your areas where you are working on nuclear weapons and keep bombing until we have satisfactorily done that, and then let the nation pick whatever government they want. But if it is one that wants to come after us again, as the Khomeini administration has, then we need to take them out too.”

Johnson (R-OH) 6/17: Condemning the kidnapping of 3 Israeli youth in the West Bank

Kaine (D-VA) 6/17: Statement on Kidnapping of Israeli Young Men

Wilson (R-SC) 6/17: “… Even now, as the Middle East watches to see how the United States will react to the current crisis, the President is putting our families at risk as he negotiates with terrorists and communicates with Israel's enemies. The President needs to change course, recognize the growing threat of international terrorism, and understand that failed diplomacy and inaction allows the creation of safe havens to attack us again. Peace can only be maintained by strength as the terrorists proclaim: Death to America, and death to Israel. They mean it.  In conclusion, God bless our troops, and we will never forget September the 11th in the global war on terrorism with freedom to prevail.”

Holding (R-NC) 6/17: Arguing that the Obama Administration cannot be trusted to make a deal with Iran

Sherman (D-CA) 6/17: Statement on issues in the Middle East

Press release 6/16: Congressmen Harris, Lamborn, Jordan, and Franks Condemn Kidnapping of Three Israeli Teenagers

Waxman (D-CA) 6/16: Statement on Kidnapping of Israeli Teenagers

Cruz (R-TX) 6/16: Statement on Kidnapping of Israeli and American Teenagers in West Bank

Engel (D-NY) 6/16: Statement on Abducted Israeli Teenagers

Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) 6/16: Statement on Kidnapping of Israeli Teenagers

Smith (R-NJ) 6/13: Raising concerns about religious freedoms, including case of American Pastor Saeed Abedini who is being held in Iran

 

6. From the Press/Blogs

 Washington Free Beacon 6/20: Paul Seeks to Remove Obama Waiver Power on Palestinian Aid

Jerusalem Post 6/20: Support ballooning in Congress for harsher financial sanctions on Hezbollah

The Hill (Blog) 6/19: Obscure law [related to Palestinians and UN] could make Iran debate moot

The National Interest 6/16: Iran Deal: Could a Concerned Congress Hinder Negotiations?

Al-Monitor 6/16: US could allow Iran sanctions to expire in 2016

 

 

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