Legislative Round-Up: December 1, 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

1. Bills, Resolutions, & Letters

(NO MILITARY AID TO COUNTRIES THAT AID IRAN) HR 4498: Introduced 11/30 by Crist (D-FL) and Bilirakis (R-FL), “To prohibit military assistance to countries that engage in arms transfers and activities with respect to Iran, and for other purposes,” aka the “No Arms Sales to Iran Act.”  Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Crist press release is here.  PDF of bill text is here.

(TARGETING FUNDING TO UN & OTHER MULTILATERALS) HR 4502: Introduced 11/30 by McCaul (R-TX), Sires (D-NJ) and Yoho (R-FL), “To establish a review of United States multilateral aid. Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. McCaul press release is here.

(JERUSALEM CONNECTION TO JUDAISIM) H. Res. 570: Introduced 10/12 by Gaetz (R-FL) and having 12 cosponsors (1 Democrat), “Affirming the historical connection of the Jewish people to the ancient and sacred city of Jerusalem and condemning efforts at the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to deny Judaism's millennia-old historical, religious, and cultural ties to Jerusalem.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on 10/12, and then on 11/29 referred to the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.


(BIBI: DON’T DEMOLISH PALESTINIAN COMMUNITIES!) Feinstein et al letter to Netanyahu: On 11/29, Senator Feinstein (D-CA) and 9 fellow Democratic senators sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu urging him not to demolish to Palestinian communities in the West Bank (Susiya and Khan al Ahmar), and arguing (among other things) that “your government’s efforts to forcibly evict entire Palestinian communities and expand settlements throughout the West Bank not only directly imperil a two-state solution, but we believe also endanger Israel’s future as a Jewish democracy.” In addition to Feinstein, the signers of the letter were: Sanders (I-VT), Leahy (D-VT), Durbin (D-IL), Carper (D-DE), Franken (D-MN), Warren (D-MA), Heinrich (D-NM), Merkley (D-OR), and Schatz (D-HI). Feinstein press release is here.\

(TAREGETING PALESTINIANS AT THE UN) Donovan et al letter to Haley: On 11/20, Rep. Donovan (R-NY) sent a letter to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley expressing “deep concerns regarding ‘the United Nations Development Assistance Framework for the State of Palestine’ between the United Nations and Palestinians” and urging her to “investigate and confirm the details of this funding agreement and report back to Congress on your findings as well as available courses of action on how you believe the United States should address this development.” Donovan press release is here.

(GOING AFTER HAMAS & US-QATAR MOU) Gottheimer-DeSantis et al letter to Mnuchin: On 11/20, Reps. Gottheimer (D-NJ) and DeSantis (R-FL), along with 17 House colleagues (bipartisan) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin requesting that, to “reassure Congress of the efficacy of the July 2017 U.S.-Qatar Memorandum of Understanding” he provide information to the signers abuit, among other things, “specific and measurable steps Qatar has taken to cut off Hamas since the signing of the agreement.” The letter goes on to request, “information on how the Administration plans to enforce the MOU, what standards and deadlines have been established for Qatar to make improvements, and what consequences will be if terrorists’ accounts at financial institutions and other sources of revenue are not shot down.” The letter also asks for an initial assessment of the progress of the new Terrorist Financing Targeting Center in targeting financiers of Hamas, and “how Qatar is able to participate in and cooperate with the Center during the Gulf countries’ internal crisis.” Gottheimer’s press release is here.

(TARGETING US POLICY ON HAMAS/QATAR) Pittinger-Schneider letter to Haley:  On 11/17, Reps. Pittinger (R-NC) and Schneider (D-IL) led a letter to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley expressing, signed by a total of 8 House members (bipartisan). The letter expresses “deep concern over U.S. policy toward Hamas” and toward Haley’s “recent statements regarding Qatar-based support for Hamas.” The letter request that Haley “clarify” U.S. policy towards Hamas related to how Qatar is implementing the U.S.-Qatar MOU. It also requests reassurance that “the administration does not recognize a distinction between Hamas’ political and military wings and does not support Qatar’s relations with and sanctuary for Hamas officials…” Schneider’s press release is here.

(COUNTERING IRAN) Mast-Schneider et al letter to SecState: On 11/14, Rep. Mast (R-FL) and Schneider (D-IL) led a letter to SecState Tillerson urging the Trump Administration to “come to Congress with a strategy for Syria that includes how the United States plans to prevent Iran from gaining a permanent foothold on Israel and Jordan’s doorstep and to block Iranian arms exports to Hizballah.” The letter expresses specific concern with respect to a permanent Iranian presence in Syria, which the signers note would “pose a significant threat to Israel, Jordan, and United States interests.” The letter was signed by a bipartisan total of 43 House members. Schneider’s press release is here.


2. Hearings

12/5: The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations will hold a business meeting to consider a number of issues, including S. Res. 139, 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.

11/29: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia held a hearing entitled, “The Latest Developments in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.” Witnesses were: Elliott Abrams, CFR [statement]; Paul Salem, MEI [statement]; and Tamara Cofman Wittes, Brookings [statement]. Video of the hearing is here. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) opening statement is here.


3. On the Record

NOTE: There did not appear to be a single statement on the record or on congressional website relating to President Trump’s decision last week to disregard U.S. law, passed by Congress in 2015, requiring the closure of the PLO mission in Washington if the President failed to certify that the Palestinians were in no way supporting action against Israel at the ICC. [It is fun to speculate much differently members of Congress from both parties would have reacted if President Obama had done the same thing…]

Gaetz (R-FL) 11/30: floor statement - Move The U.S. Embassy To Jerusalem

Zeldin (R-NY) 11/30: floor statement on released CIA documents that “reveal a much more intimate relationship between Iran and al-Qaida than previously suspected.”

Toomey (R-PA) 11/29: Press release touting his signing on as co-sponsor to the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720)

Gohmert (R-TX) 11/28: Ah, yes, another Gohmert stream-of-consciousness floor tirade, including this week suggesting that since there is an issue recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, “I would be fine if we wanted to compromise and say: Okay, you need time to get used to the idea, then let's move the capital from Tel Aviv to Hebron and make that the capital of Israel for 7 and 1/2 years, like King David did.”

Gottheimer (D-NJ) 11/17: Press release - Gottheimer, Mast's Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act Advances