Legislative Round-Up: May 19, 2017

 Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Legislative Round-Up was conceived

  1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters
  2. Hearings
  3. On the Record

Shameless plug: New Lara Friedman op-ed, published 5/18: Netanyahu’s Predictable Traps to Sabotage Peace

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters

(ETERNAL-UNITED-JERUSALEM) H. Res. 328: Introduced 5/16 by Suozzi (R-NY) and Rooney (R-NY), “Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Press release is here.

(ETERNAL-UNITED-JERUSALEM, HOME TO OUR ETERNAL-UNITED-EMBASSY) S. Res. 167: Introduced 5/17 by Heller (R-NV) and 3 GOP cosponsors, “A resolution relating to the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the relocation of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Press release (including text of the resolution) is here.

(NO $$ TO UN) HR 2496: Introduced 5/17 by Franks (R-AZ) and no cosponsors, “To prohibit assessed or voluntary contributions to the United Nations, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(NO $$ FOR THE PALESTINIANS) HR 2497: Introduced 5/17 by Franks (R-AZ) and no cosponsors, “To prohibit assistance for the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank and Gaza, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

(WE DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ 2-STATE SOLUTION) H. Res. 331: Introduced 5/17 by Franks (R-AZ) and no cosponsors, “Expressing the policy of the United States with respect to a two-state solution between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people.” The resolved clauses of the resolution state that it is the policy of the United States:

  1. to oppose a two-state solution between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people if either party refuses to recognize the other party’s right to exist [in effect, giving both Israeli and Palestinian rejectionists a veto]; and
  2. if current Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Palestinian Authority (PA) officials seek the support of the United States in peace efforts, to require such officials—
    1. to fully recognize the 1993 Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles, or Oslo Accords, as legitimate and as the basis for the peace negotiations [this has long been the PLO/PA position]; and
    2. to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist [the Palestinians did this in 1993] and Israel’s historical land claims [in effect, requiring the Palestinians to become Zionists and agree to Israel’s right to keep all of Greater Israel].

(SYRIA & IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 1677: Introduced 3/22 by Engel (D-NY) and 12 original cosponsors (bipartisan), and currently having 108 cosponsors, the “Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2017.” Passed by the House 5/17 by a voice vote. [Excellent analysis of the bill – and its very problematic elements – from FCNL is here]. HFAC press release is here. Floor consideration is here.

(GRAB-BAG OF LEGISLATION REFERRED TO HFAC/MENA SUBCOMM): On 5/18, the following pieces of legislation were referred by the House Foreign Affairs Committee to its Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa:


H. Res. 201, “Expressing support to the Government of Argentina for its investigation into the terrorist bombing of the Embassy of Israel in Buenos Aires on March 17, 1992,” introduced 3/16 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and 12 cosponsors

H. Res. 218, “Recognizing the importance of the United States-Israel economic relationship and encouraging new areas of cooperation,” introduced 3/21 by Lieu (D-CA) and 49 cosponsors

H. Res. 226, “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding United States efforts to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace,” introduced 3/23 by Lee (D-CA) and 1 cosponsor

H. Res. 231, “Celebrating the importance of the 15th Anniversary of the Arab Peace Initiative as a meaningful effort by Arab countries to the commitment of peace in the Middle East,” introduced 3/27 by Hastings (D-FL) and no cosponsors

HR 2390, the “PLO Accountability Act of 2017,” introduced 5/4 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and 2 GOP cosponsors

H. Res. 317, “Calling for the unconditional release of United States citizens and legal permanent resident aliens being held for political purposes by the Government of Iran,” introduced 5/4 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and having 3 bipartisan cosponsors


H. Res. 188, “Condemning the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the 1988 massacre of political prisoners and calling for justice for the victims,” introduced 3/9 by McCaul (R-TX) and having 43 bipartisan cosponsors

H. Res. 185, “Calling on the Government of Iran to fulfill repeated promises of assistance in the case of Robert Levinson, the longest held United States civilian in our Nation's history,” introduced 3/9 by Deutch (D-FL) and Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)

HR 1638, the “Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act,” introduced 3/20 by Poliquin (R-ME) and having no cosponsors

HR 1785, the “Comprehensive Strategy to Destroy ISIS Act of 2017,” introduced 3/27 by Kinzinger (R-IL) and having 11 bipartisan cosponsors

H. Res. 274, “Condemning the Government of Iran's state-sponsored persecution of its Baha'i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights,” introduced 4/25 by Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and having 7 bipartisan cosponsors


H. Res. 252, “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives on the challenges posed to long-term stability in Lebanon by the conflict in Syria and supporting the establishment of safe zones in Syria,” introduced 4/6 by LaHood (R-IL) and having cosponsors

(OTHER MEASURES REFERRED): On 5/18, the following pieces of legislation were referred to subcommittee:

H. Res. 260, “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives in support of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) nuclear security role,” introduced 4/6 by Foster (D-IL) and having 4 cosponsors; referred to HFAC’s Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade.

HR 1911,  “Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act of 2017,” introduced 4/5 by Smith (R-NJ) and having 25 cosponsors; referred to HFAC’s Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations.


(ADVICE FOR TRIP TO MIDDLE EAST) Cardin letter to Trump: On 5/18, Sen. Cardin (D-MD), ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to President Trump offering advice for his upcoming trip to the Middle East and Europe. With respect to Israel and the Palestinians, he stated: “During your stop in Israel, you should reaffirm that the United States will always ensure that Israel is able to defend herself and will continue to combat actions that unfairly target, isolate, or seek to delegitimize Israel.  Whether in the halls of the United Nations, trade negotiations with the European Union, or governments in the Middle East, the United States will not tolerate anti-Israel rhetoric, policies, or aggression.  Standing with Israel also means protecting its qualitative military edge and ensuring that U.S. security assistance continues reliably and efficiently.  Your visit is also an opportunity to make clear that there is no outcome acceptable to both Israel and the Palestinians other than a two-state solution, and the United States remains committed to facilitating direct negotiations for two states living side by side with security and dignity.  I hope that your discussions with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will reaffirm America’s commitment to Palestinian economic growth and development, but Palestinian leaders must understand unequivocally that the U.S. opposes rhetoric inciting, encouraging, or condoning violence as well as continued payments to the families of terrorists.” Press release is here.

(FY18 BUDGET – FMF CUTS) Leahy letter to Enzi & Sanders: On 5/17, Sen. Leahy (D-VT), ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, sent a letter to Budget Committee Chair and Ranking Member Enzi (R-WY) and Sanders (I-VT), laying out his views and estimates related to the FY18 Budget Resolutions and the Trump Administration’s FY18 Budget Blueprint. Among other things, Leahy notes: “A 26 percent cut to FMF ($1.6 billion compared to FY 2017) is roughly equivalent to eliminating FMF for every country in the world except Israel and Egypt.  However, the budget suggests that rather than eliminating FMF the Administration will convert portions of it to a loan program.  This would require poorer countries to reimburse the United States (which past experience has shown they are unable to do) for assistance that is in our security interest to provide to them.  More likely, this will erode the State Department’s foreign relationships and increase demands on DOD, when providing this type of assistance is not their core mission.  Otherwise these countries will take their business elsewhere and U.S. industry will be the loser.”  


2. Hearings

5/24: The House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade will hold a hearing entitled, “Nuclear Deal Fallout: The Global Threat of Iran.” Witnesses will be (so far): Ilan Berman, American Foreign Policy Council; and Ray Takeyh, Council on Foreign Relations.

5/23: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to hold a markup of S. 722, the “Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017.” This AIPAC-backed bill is opposed by many who support the JCPOA and are concerned about responsible Iran policy – J Street has compiled a list of quotes/links to expert views here. See also analysis and explanations of concerns from J Street, FCNL, the Arms Control Association, NIAC (also here), Win Without War, and the Iran Project.

5/23: The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Worldwide Threats.” Witnesses will be: Daniel R. Coats, Director of National Intelligence; and Lt. Gen. Vincent R. Stewart, USMC, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency.


3. On the Record

Wilson (R-SC) 5/18: On the Iran-North Korea link

Banks (R-IN) 5/18: “It is vital that the United States Government recognize the Western Wall as part of Israel and that the President should affirm that position during his upcoming trip. I am hopeful that recognizing the Western Wall will be part of a process to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

Zeldin (R-NY) 5/17: Rep. Zeldin Speaks at Reunification of Jerusalem Luncheon [on the Hill]

Zeldin (R-NY) 5/17: President Trump’s Decision to Not Move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem (should move embassy, and “I would also encourage him to allow Prime Minister Netanyahu to escort him to the Western Wall, which is absolutely also a part of Israel.”)

Murphy (D-CT) and Young (R-IN) 5/16: Floor colloquy on situation in Yemen

Meadows (R-NC) 5/16: Statement on McMaster’s Western Wall Remarks

On news that Trump revealed highly-classified Israeli intelligence to Russians

Lieu (D-CA); Engel (D-NY); Deutch (D-FL); Wasserman Schultz (D-FL); Hoyer (D-MD); Rosen (D-NV)