Legislative Round-up: November 27, 2019

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 

[Apologies for the erratic November schedule of the Round-Up. I endeavour to publish every Friday when Congress is in session, but occasionally find it impossible to do so while traveling, as was the case this past month.]

 

  1. Bills,  Resolutions, & Letters

 

(WE STAND WITH ISRAEL IN BOMBING GAZA) H. Res. 727: Introduced 11/21 by Gottheimer (D-NJ) and having 15 bipartisan cosponsors, “Affirming United States support for the State of Israel's right to defend itself from terrorist attacks.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Gottheimer issued a press release on the measure on 11/22, and another on 11/25; also see press releases from Lee (D-NV), Van Drew (D-NJ). NOTE: On 11/14, Israel dropped a bomb on a house filled with civilians in Gaza, killing 9 members of the same family, including children. Israel subsequently said the house was targeted in error. H. Res. 727, unsurprisingly, says nothing about this.

 

(3 CHEERS FOR MORE US-ISRAEL MILITARY COOPERATION!) HR 5063: Introduced 11/13 by Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Gonzalez (R-OH), the “United States-Israel Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems Cooperation Enhancement Act.”  Referred to the Committee on Armed Services, and the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Gottheimer press release is here; Gonzalez press release is here.

 

(NO MORE WAIVERS OF IRAN SANCTIONS) S. 2874: Introduced 11/14 by Cruz (R-TX) and having 5 all-GOP cosponsors, “A bill to terminate certain waivers of sanctions with respect to Iran issued in connection with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Rubio (R-FL) press release is here.

 

(NO MORE WAIVERS OF IRAN SANCTIONS) HR 5086: Introduced 11/14 by Cheney (R-WY and 27 all-GOP cosponsors, “To terminate certain waivers of sanctions with respect to Iran issued in connection with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committees on Foreign Affairs, Financial Services, the Judiciary, and Oversight and Reform. Press releases: Cheney (R-WY) Budd (R-NC)

 

(U.S. OUT OF SYRIA) H. Con. Res. 77: Introduced 11/21 by Gabbard (D-HI) and no cosponsors, “Directing the President pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Syrian Arab Republic that have not been authorized by Congress.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

 

(FBI: INVESTIGATE KSA) HR 5128: Introduced 11/15 by Nalder (D-NY) and no cosponsors, “To require the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to declassify any and all information relating to whether the government of Saudi Arabia assisted a citizen or national of Saudi Arabia in departing the United States while the citizen or national was awaiting trial or sentencing for a criminal offense committed in the United States, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

 

(NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA….BATWEEK!) H. Res. 663: Introduced 10/24 by Thompson (R-PA) and Welch (D-VT), “Expressing support for the designation of the week of October 24, 2019, to October 31, 2019, as ‘BatWeek,’” [seriously], aka, “How closely do you actually read Lara’s Legislative Round-Up?” Referred to the House Committee on Agriculture.

 

(LIMITING DOD CO-OP WITH TURKEY)  HR 5182: Introduced 11/19 by Meng (D-NY) and 3 bipartisan cosponsors, “To prohibit the Department of Defense from deploying strategic assets of the United States in the Republic of Turkey.” Referred to the House Committee on Armed Services. Meng floor statement introducing the bill is here; Meng press release is here.

 

(BAD TURKEY!) S. Res. 418: Introduced 11/12 by Blackburn (R-TN) and having 9 bipartisan cosponsors, “A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate regarding the Government of Turkey's crackdown on dissent related to its incursion into northeast Syria, and broader human rights violations.”  Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

 

(BAD TURKEY!) S. 2832: Introduced 11/12 by Markey (D-MA) and Wyden (D-OR), the “Turkey Human Rights Promotion Act of 2019.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

 

(BAD TURKEY!) S. Res. 409: Introduced 11/6 by Menendez (D-NJ) and 3 Democratic cosponsors, “A resolution requesting information on Turkey's human rights practices in Syria pursuant to section 502B(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations

 

(WELL DONE, SPECIAL OPS FORCES & K9S!) H. Res. 678: Introduced 11/1 by Estes (R-KS) and having 39 bipartisan cosponsors, “Commending the performance of the Special Operations Forces and a military working dog in the eradication of the terrorist leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” Referred to the House Committee on Armed Services. 

 

(3 CHEERS FOR US ALLIES IN FIGHT AGAINST ISIS) H. Res. 705: Introduced 11/14 by Slotkin (D-MI) and  22 bipartisan cosponsors, “Recognizing the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Slotkin floor statement introducing the bill is here.

 

(COMMEMORATING THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE) S. Res.150: Introduced 4/9 by Menendez (D-NJ) and having 28 bipartisan cosponsors, “A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that it is the policy of the United States to commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and remembrance.” On 11/13, Menendez sought Unanimous Consent to bring up S. Res. 150 on the Senate floor; he was blocked by Graham (R-SC), stating: “My objection will not be to sugarcoat history, nor to rewrite it. I just met with President Erdogan and President Trump about the S-400 purchase and about the problems we face in Syria from the military incursion by Turkey, and I do hope Turkey and Armenia can come together and deal with this problem. But given where we are in Syria and some hope that maybe we can resolve things, I object, not because of the past but because of the future…” The full transcript of their exchange is here.

 

(US POLICY RE: LIBYA) S. 2934: Introduced 11/21 by Coons (D-DE) and having 3 bipartisan cosponsors, “A bill to clarify United States policy toward Libya, advance a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Libya, and support the people of Libya.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

 

Letters

 

(REVERSE CHANGE IN SETTLEMENTS POLICY!) Levin et al letter to Pompeo: On 11/22, Rep. Levin (D-MI) led a letter, cosigned by a list of 107 House Democrats, to SecState Pompeo, expressing “strong disagreement with the State Department’s decision to reverse decades of bipartisan U.S. policy on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank” and “strongly” urging him to “reverse this policy decision immediately.” Press release is here.

 

(OPEN FDA OFFICE IN ISRAEL!) Hastings-Wilson letter to HHS Secretary: On 11/22, Reps. Hastings (D-FL) and Wilson (R-SC) led a letter, cosigned by a list of 19 bipartisan House members, urging HHS Secretary Azar to “to establish a regional office of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the State of Israel.” Press release is here.

(SANCTION IRAN FOR SHUTTING DOWN INTERNET) Cruz et al letter to Trump: On 11/22, Senators Cruz (R-TX), Cotton (R-AR), Cornyn (R-TX), Blackburn (R-TN), Toomey (R-PA), Barrasso (R-WY), Rubio (R-FL), sent a letter to President Trump urging him to impose sanctions on Iranian officials responsible for shutting down the Internet, and work to restore full Internet access in Iran. Press release (dated 11/25) is here.

(DEAR UN: DEFEND ISRAEL, DEFEAT HIZBALLAH) Luria et al letter to UNSYG: On 11/18, Luria (D-VA) led a letter, cosigned by a list of 240 bipartisan members of the House, sent to UN Secretary General Guterres, expressing concern about the “continuing, serious violations of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, and the resulting threat that our ally Israel faces on its northern border.” Press release is here. [Proving that sometimes Congress DOES care about violations of UNSCRs.]

 

(HELP IRANIANS ACCESS THE INTERNET) Lankford Letter to Pompeo: On 11/16, Lankford (R-OK) sent a letter to SecState Pompeo urging that: “Firewall circumvention technology in Iran can be a powerful tool to empower the Iranian people to exercise their God-given rights of free speech and assembly. By taking steps to ensure the internet is accessible to the millions of Iranians who want it through firewall circumvention technology, our nation can continue its maximum pressure campaign against the Iranian regime. As part of the Department’s increased investment in firewall circumvention technology, I encourage you to continue to prioritize programs in Iran.” 

 

(ACCURATE LABELING OF SETTLEMENT GOODS IS EVIL!) Zeldin-Wasserman Schultz letter to EU: On 11/14, Reps. Zeldin (R-NJ) and Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) sent a letter to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, condemning the European Court of Justice’s ruling that goods made in West Bank settlements cannot be labeled “made in Israel” (since they are not, in fact, made in Israel). Among other things, Zeldin and Wasserman Schultz repeatedly use the word “disputed” in place of “occupied,” and put the word “settlement” in quotation marks (not clear if that is because they are quoting the ECJ decision or because they don’t believe there is such a thing as settlements. In the letter, they write: “We fear that by affirming the use of food/product labels for ‘ethical,’ foreign policy and international law, and a seemingly-unlimited set of other considerations, entirely unrelated to food safety and consumer protection, the EU has opened the door to the politicization of product labeling, which was never intended to be used for political purposes…” At the end of their lengthy letter, the articulate their real concern: “we are also highly concerned that this CJEU decision, which empowers the EU to require its Member States to label Israeli and Palestinian products in the manner proposed, will facilitate Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) tactics and de facto boycotts and discrimination against Israel, and its products, contrary to existing EU policies and laws against BDS campaigns, Israel boycotts and discrimination.” Press release is here.

 

(NEED ANSWERS Re: KSA NUKE PROGRAM) Dem Senators letter to nominee for Secretary of Energy: On 11/13, Sens. Van Hollen (D-MD), Markey (D-MA), Merkley (D-OR), and Kaine (D-VA) sent a letter to Dan Brouillette, President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Energy, seeking answers regarding his position on a potential civil nuclear cooperation or “123” agreement with Saudi Arabia ahead of his confirmation hearing. Press release is here.

 

(ACCURATE LABELING OF SETTLEMENT GOODS IS EVIL!) Menendez letter to EU: On 11/10, Menendez (D-NJ) sent a letter to E.U. Ambassador Stavros Lambrinidis to “raise concerns about an imminent ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on an issue which could create tensions between the European Union and the United States.” Menendez goes on to assert that, “the EU and its Member States have been grappling with the issue of labeling products from Israel since 2015.” NOTE: This last statement is either an error or a deliberate mis-statement. The EU and its Member States in no way grapple with labeling products made in Israel -- all sides agree that it is proper to label such products as made in Israel. What the EU has been grappling with is the proper way to label products made in territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 War, including territories that even Israel does not assert (as yet) are part of the sovereign state of Israel. Menendez goes on to further mischaracterize the EU’s policy, suggesting that it “targets specific businesses based on the ethnicity and national origin of their owners," an assertion that deliberately obfuscates the real issue - i.e., the legal status of Israel as an occupier and the illegality of Israeli settlements under international law. Toward the end of his letter, Menendez gets to the core of his concern: "I am deeply concerned that if the CJEU decision...could facilitate Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) tactics and de facto boycotts and discrimination against Israel, and its products and potentially lead to discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, religion and nationality, contrary to existing EU policies and laws against BDS campaigns, Israel boycotts, and discrimination.” Menendez ends with a veiled threat that if the ECJ rules on labeling in a way that displease Congress (as it ultimately did), “there will be serious and far-reaching implications and unintended consequences…” Press release is here.

 

(CHALLENGING DEPT OF ED ATTACK ON DUKE-UNC/TITLE VI) Levin-Davis letter to DeVos: On 11/1, Reps. Levin (D-MI), Vice Chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor, and Davis (D-CA), Chair of the Committee on Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment, sent a letter to Secretary of Education De Vos challenging the Department’s recent assault on Title VI-funded programs. The letter notes with concern that the Department has implied that it “considers area studies courses on Islam to be religious or political propoganda.” It also notes that the authors “are worried that the Duke-UNC Consortium is being singled out by the Department. While we believe that the Department has a serious responsibility to ensure that universities appropriately spend the taxpayer dollars it awards, such inquiries must not threaten academic freedom. The Department investigation of the Duke-UNC Consortium will reverberate across American colleges and universities, perhaps causing all institutions to consider whether the federal government will investigate them because of curricula it dislikes.

 

(SUDAN MUST HELD TO ACCOUNT) Grassley letter to Pompeo: On 11/1, Sen. Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to SecState Pompeo urging the State Department “to put victims of international terrorism first during sanctions negotiations by securing a commitment from Sudan to compensate for its prior support of terrorism that has killed and injured Americans serving abroad.” Press release is here.

 

  1. Hearings

 

11/20: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy held a 2-panel hearing entitled, “Challenges and Opportunities For Advancing U.S. Interests in the United Nations System.” Unsurprisingly, issues related to Israel (starting from the Chairman’s opening statement calling out the UN for its treatment of Israel), Iran, and the Middle East more broadly, figured prominently in the hearing. Panel 1 witnesses were: Kip Tom, U.S. Representative to the UN’s Agencies for Food and Agriculture (testimony); Jonathan Moore, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of International Affairs (testimony); and Scott Busby, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (testimony). Panel 2 witnesses were: Brett Schaefer, Heritage Foundation (testimony, including section on Israel); Peter Yeo, Better World Campaign (testimony, including discussion of treatment of Israel);  and Amy Lehr, CSIS (testimony, including discussion of treatment of Israel). Video is here.

 

11/19: The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism held a hearing entitled, “What's Next for Lebanon? Examining the Implications of Current Protests.” Witnesses were: Carla E. Humud, Congressional Research Service (statement); Mona Yacoubian, USIP (Former Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau on the Middle East, United States Agency for International Development) (statement); Jeff Feltman, Brookings (Former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs and Former United States Ambassador to Lebanon) (statement); and Hanin Ghaddar, WINEP (statement). Video is here.

 

  1. On the Record...

...Cheering Trump Admin’s Reversal of Longstanding US Settlements Policy

Cramer (R-ND) 11/19: “I am thankful President Trump and his Administration consistently stand up for Israel on the world stage. This legal opinion from the President Carter Administration was ineffective in advancing the cause of peace in the Middle East, and the future of Judea and Samaria should be determined by negotiations between the Israeli Government and the Palestinians. I am confident the Israeli legal system will fairly decide any issues arising from these settlements, and I urge our leaders to continue working in a bipartisan manner to advance the cause of safety and security in the region.”

Cruz (R-TX) 11/18: "For too long, the United States has been slow to acknowledge the basic reality that our Israeli allies have sovereignty over their territories, and today the administration took steps to right that wrong. It's up to our Israeli allies to make their own decisions about what to do with their territories. Today's decision also takes another step in reversing the disgraceful legacy of the Obama administration and United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334. That resolution falsely denied Israel's sovereignty over its territories, including the Jewish Quarter and Old City of Jerusalem, and called on all U.N. states to do the same. I have long pushed for policies that demonstrate to the world that the United States considers Resolution 2334 null and void, and the Trump administration has taken several such steps, including by moving our embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Today's announcement is another welcome move discarding that shameful resolution."

Graham (R-SC) 11/18: “I support the announcement on Israeli settlements made today by Secretary Pompeo.  This announcement is a repudiation of President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry’s ill-informed efforts to target Israeli presence in the West Bank. While I strongly support a two-state solution, I believe the Trump administration’s announcement today will ultimately advance the cause of peace over time. In addition, the cancellation of the civil nuclear cooperation waiver regarding the Iran nuclear program is welcome news. Iran’s behavior in the Middle East, in particular the attack on the Saudi oil field, does not justify continued waivers for their nuclear program. These decisions by President Trump show a firm resolve to stand with our friends in Israel and stand up to the Ayatollah’s rogue regime.

Zeldin (R-NJ) 11/18: Rep. Zeldin Applauds Reversal of Obama Admin Anti-Israel Policy [mis-attributing longstanding, bipartisan U.S. policy on settlements to President Obama].

 

...Condemning Trump Admin’s Reversal of Longstanding US Settlements Policy

Leahy (D-VT) 11/21: “...On Monday, Secretary of State Pompeo announced that the administration no longer considers Israeli settlements to be contrary to international law, thereby reversing a longstanding U.S. position that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal. That position was based on adherence to international law and UN Security Council resolutions and was embraced by both Democratic and Republican administrations. Upon learning of this change of position, I could not help but feel that it signified the demise of the Oslo Accords. After so many similar reversals of U.S. positions by this White House on key issues that both sides had pledged would be resolved only through negotiations, it seems beyond dispute that President Trump never believed in a two-state solution. In fact, this White House has been consistently disingenuous about its intentions in the Middle East, all the time talking about wanting a political settlement but acting in ways that put it increasingly out of reach. It was just a matter of time before they abandoned any pretext of supporting the principle that territorial disputes should be resolved through dialogue. Every step of the way, administration officials have insisted on the myth that they are improving the prospects for peace, but 3 years later, Israelis and Palestinians are farther from that goal than at any time since 1993. The White House, with the support and encouragement of the U.S. Ambassador and the Secretary of State, has done whatever it could to ensure that the West Bank, home to nearly 3 million Palestinians, is occupied permanently or annexed by Israel. Without a change of leadership with the necessary vision and political courage in the United States and in Israel, the Palestinians will remain as second-class citizens, subjected to a lifetime of indignities and entitled to only limited rights. I cannot help but wonder what my friend Prime Minister Rabin would be thinking today and how he would react to this announcement. I suspect he would be as disappointed as I am that his courageous act more than a quarter century ago, and the opportunity that act offered for lasting peace for both Israelis and Palestinians, has been so selfishly and recklessly squandered.”

Moore (D-WI) 11/19: "I am troubled by the State Department’s decision, which moves the U.S. further away from being seen as an honest broker, takes the Israeli and Palestinian people further away from achieving a two-state solution and turns decades of U.S. foreign policy on its head. The unfortunate result of this decision (and a slew of others that this Administration has made so far) is that the United States is even more isolated from the international community, which largely regards Israeli occupation to be illegal. Peace, stability and security is even farther away today than when President Trump took office.”

Feinstein (D-CA) 11/19: “This decision shows how little the Trump administration cares about a peaceful, two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians. Nearly 700,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank, an area Palestinians claim. More settlements will only make it harder to form a contiguous Palestinian state in the future. West Bank settlements do not make Israel safer. To the contrary, they perpetuate violent conflict with the Palestinian people. The United States must continue its long-held, bipartisan policy of working toward a negotiated two-state solution.”

House Progressive Caucus (Pocan, D-WI and Jayapal, D-WA) 11/19: “At every opportunity, the Trump Administration has positioned itself as an obstacle to peace in the Middle East. Yesterday’s announcement reverses decades-long U.S. policy and ignores international law. It also further undermines our credibility in the region and pushes peace even further out of grasp. Diplomacy is the only path to peace. As the Trump Administration continues to escalate tensions, it is more critical than ever for Congress to speak out against illegal annexation and fight for a negotiated, two-state solution. Earlier this year, we urged House Democratic leadership to hold a vote on Congressman Lowenthal’s congressional resolution committing the U.S. government to pursuing a two-state solution in the Middle East. Given the latest provocations from the Trump Administration, we cannot afford any further delay. Congress should vote on this legislation immediately and reaffirm our commitment to protecting diplomacy and human rights in the region.”

Smith (D-WA) 11/19: “The decision by Secretary Pompeo and the Trump Administration is misguided and paves the way for further Israeli settlement expansion. Continuing down the path of expanded settlements undermines the viability of a Palestinian state and makes a two-state solution even more difficult. Without durable states for both the Israeli and Palestinian people, the region will continue to face the violence and instability it has suffered for generations.This is just the latest in a series of actions by the Trump Administration that have damaged U.S. credibility in pushing for a comprehensive peace agreement. The U.S. should focus on taking actions that safeguard Israel’s security, enhance stability in the region, and advance the prospects for a two-state solution. This decision runs counter to those objectives.”

Udall (D-NM) 11/18: “I have been saddened and alarmed by the recent escalation of violence in Gaza and Israel. Instead of working to reduce violence between Israelis and Palestinians, Secretary Pompeo’s announcement today casts aside decades of bipartisan American foreign policy at a time when we should be working to lower dangerously high tensions in a volatile region, not adding more fuel to the fire. The United States government—as well as the global community—has long regarded Israeli settlements as illegal under international law, and as such these settlements have long been regarded by experts as a major roadblock to a peace deal and the two-state solution. In light of this president’s reckless decision to once again abandon longstanding foreign policy, Congress should reaffirm support for a settlement freeze in order to preserve any hope of a peace deal. Negotiation—not unilateral action—remains central to Israel’s long-term security and the viability of any future state for the Palestinian people.

Pocan (D-WI) 11/18: “Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal. Once again, the Trump administration is taking a massive step backwards and endangering any hopes of peace in the region with this destructive action. Reversing on decades-long bipartisan U.S. policy opposing the settlements in the West Bank is a blatant attempt to help Prime Minister Netanyahu—not promote peace in the region. With every policy they announce, this administration has made it clear: they don’t want peace, they want instability. This announcement is one in a series of destabilizing decisions made by this administration—from cutting Congressionally-approved humanitarian funding to Gaza and the West Bank to moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem—these actions don’t bring us any closer to peace. We need to pass House Resolution 326 and reaffirm our opposition to settlement expansion, support for a two-state solution, and opposition to the annexation of the West Bank.”

Moulton (D-MA) 11/18: “Permanent Israeli settlements are a direct threat to the possibility of a lasting, two-state peace plan. The Administration’s decision to change America’s position on the legitimacy of settlements in the West Bank cements a radical shift in U.S. policy that has occurred over the last three years, and forfeits any credibility that remained with the Palestinians that will be required to broker a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The timing of this announcement is calculated, and comes as Israel is set to form its own government this week. Instead of trading pivotal U.S. policy for political favors to Prime Minister Netanyahu, America should work towards a lasting peace that will only come from a two-state plan, negotiated in good faith by Israel and the Palestinians. America’s role in the world should match the mantra that guided my unit in the Marines: There is no better friend and no worse enemy than the United States of America. President Trump, Vice President Pence, Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Pompeo claim to be good friends of Israel. Good friends of Israel would not inflame tensions with short-sighted and politically-motivated decisions like this one. Good friends of Israel would denounce settlements for what they are—dangerous and destabilizing efforts to consolidate power and territory at the expense of peace.”

Price (D-NC), Schakowsky (D-IL), Yarmuth (D-KY), Connolly (D-VA), Lee (D-CA), Welch (D-VT), Lowenthal (D-CA), Doggett (D-TX), and Blumenauer (D-OR) 11/18: “Secretary Pompeo’s statement today singlehandedly undermines decades of U.S. policy by declaring that Israeli settlements in occupied territories do not violate international law in the eyes of the U.S. government.  This announcement, when coupled with recent decisions to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem apart from any resolution of outstanding issues, to close the Palestinian office in Washington, D.C., to shut down the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, and to cut assistance to the West Bank and Gaza, illustrates that the Trump administration is dead set on destroying any sliver of hope remaining for peace and security in the Middle East. It’s clear the Administration has no plan to bring Israelis and Palestinians together in good faith. Most importantly, this decision jeopardizes the safety of both Israelis and Palestinians and undercuts any prospect for a two-state solution. This flagrant disregard for international law and the U.S. role as an honest broker in this conflict further undercuts both U.S. leadership and credibility, and it must be reversed.”

...On EU Labeling Policy

Cotton (R-AR) 11/12: Cotton Statement on EU Targeting of Israeli Products [“It’s disgraceful for the European Court of Justice to endorse the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.  Yet again, the international community reveals its obsession with singling out and punishing Israel.”]

 

...On latest Israeli Military Operation in  Gaza 

Keller (R-PA) 11/19: Congressman Fred Keller applauds Trump administration standing up for Israeli settlements [“Israel is a strong ally to the United States and remains the only Democracy in the Middle East. I applaud the Trump administration for standing up for Israeli sovereignty in their homeland. The Jewish people are so-called because they come from Judea. They are not foreign invaders, they have a historical birthright to this territory. Yesterday’s announcement corrects the wrong that declared these settlements as illegal under international law and supports Israel’s right to determine their own homeland.”]

Griffith (R-VA) 11/18: “...Like individual people, nations have the right to self-defense. It is an essential task of their governments. Events taking place in Israel and closer to home remind us of how essential it is. Israel has undergone a barrage of rocket strikes from the Gaza Strip largely from the militant group Islamic Jihad in recent days. Almost 400 rockets were launched, forcing Israelis to head for cover as they sought to go about their daily lives. This assault highlights how Israel, one of our strongest allies, faces constant threats from entities that deny its reason even to exist...I support our ally Israel standing up to defend itself, and I want our country to do so as well, especially where our borders are threatened. There can be very real consequences if we do not….”

Murphy (D-CT) 11/13: “I’m worried for my friends in Israel who are facing hundreds of rocket attacks from Islamic Jihad over the last 24 hours. Israel has every right to defend itself proportionally from these attacks, and it’s clear we must continue to support Israel’s advanced missile defense system,” said Murphy. “Palestinians and Israelis have both been targeted by the Salafist terrorist group Islamic Jihad, and I am deeply concerned about civilian casualties in Israel and Gaza resulting from the recent violence. I strongly support efforts to achieve an immediate ceasefire and alleviate the long-term humanitarian crisis that threatens to further deteriorate the situation in Gaza.”

Weber (R-TX) 11/18: Statement on Gaza's Rocket Attacks on Israel

Sasse (R-NE) 11/14: “Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are terrorist organizations, period. These attacks are an ongoing reminder that terrorists in Gaza are capable of wreaking havoc on our ally Israel. Americans should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our ally, and the U.S should increase our security assistance to Israel.

Lieu (D-CA) 11/12: “No nation can allow its civilians to be targeted by rocket fire. Israel has every right to defend itself from terrorists and the United States must continue to support our ally. I am proud of the support Congress has given to Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system that today is helping to prevent civilian casualties from hostile foreign actors.”

Hoyer (D-MD) 11/12: "Israel, like every other nation, has the fundamental right to defend itself and protect its citizens from terror.  The actions carried out against Islamic Jihad, a recognized terrorist organization that continues to plot attacks against Israeli civilians and aim for the eradication of the Jewish state, were aimed at preventing atrocities against civilians.  Having visited many times with families in Israel's southern region who live under the constant threat of terror from Gaza, I understand why Israeli forces took action to prevent Islamic Jihad's leadership from carrying out its nefarious plots. The response from Gaza in the form of rockets fired into Israel and further threats of terror cannot be justified; neither can the global condemnation of Israel as it faced attack against its civilian population.  It is time for the international community to end the unfair double-standard against the Jewish state."

McConnell (R-KY) 11/12: “Hong Kong is not the only recent reminder that we live in a dangerous world in which America's interests, allies, and ideals are constantly threatened. Press reports this morning indicated that Israel is suffering yet another round of terror, including more than 160 rocket launches fired against civilian targets in Israel. This comes after Israeli forces appear to have eliminated one high-ranking leader in the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, in Gaza, and targeted another PIJ terrorist in Damascus, Syria. The United States stands with our ally Israel against PIJ, Hamas, and Hezbollah terrorists who have long sought to erase the Jewish State. If these reports are accurate, it will be no surprise that one of these terrorist leaders was holed up in Damascus. Syria, under Assad, stands alongside Iran as the chief patron of anti-Israel terrorism. This is just another reminder that the United States and some of our closest allies have a strong say in the future of Syria and that a victory for Assad will be a victory for Iran and for terrorism.”

...On Turkey (And Erdogan’s Visit to the White House)

Schumer (D-NY) 11/20: “...The President continues to demonstrate an uncanny ability to get steamrolled by autocrats like Erdogan and like Putin without getting a thing in return.

Lankford (R-OK) 11/13: “...This Congress would look forward to partnering with Turkey again in the future, as we have for decades in the past. We have had an economic relationship, a military relationship, and a genuine friendship with Turkey, but we do not know who Turkey is anymore. We don't recognize the Turkey of today from Turkey 5 years ago. We would never come to your country and beat up protesters in the street as President Erdogan's security thugs did last year in the United States. We would never do that to your country. We would never counter NATO just to spite you, and we would certainly stay aligned with a friend who has been a friend for decades. To the Turkish people, our beef is not with you. Our frustration is with the regime that is currently directing your country away from its traditional allies. We continue to reach our hand out to the Turkish people, and we continue to say to President Erdogan: This can be different in the days ahead, as it has been in the past, but some things need to change, and we are not the ones who walked away…”

Udall (D-NM) 11/13: Udall: As Erdogan Visits White House, Trump Organization Refusing to Answer Questions on Business Interests in Turkey

Raskin (D-MD) 11/13: Trump-Erdogan Meeting Should Not Take Place

Schumer (D-NY) 11/13: “...President Trump will roll out the red carpet today for President Erdogan, of Turkey, as he visits the White House after everything that has transpired over the last few months. This is after President Trump green-lit Turkey's reckless and destabilizing invasion of northern Syria, after Turkish troops and their proxies committed atrocities against civilians and the Syrian Kurds, who are our former partners in the fight against ISIS, and after Erdogan cut a deal with our adversary President Putin and threatened our allies in Europe with the release of ISIS's detainees. The fact that President Trump will reward President Erdogan with an Oval Office meeting today is mind-boggling.

McConnell (R-KY) 11/13: “...today President Trump will host the leader of Turkey at the White House. Although I have expressed concerns about granting President Erdogan such an honor in light of his recent actions, I hope the meeting produces better behavior from this important NATO ally…”

Van Hollen (D-MD) 11/12: “...the fact that the President of the United States has invited Erdogan to the White House, after everything Erdogan has done to undermine our values and security, is a shame on the United States. It will undermine our national security interests. It has already alarmed our allies and heartened our adversaries. It is important that all of us--all of us in this House and Senate--on a bipartisan basis, speak out--as we have been doing--against the shameful chapter in our American foreign policy and national security.”

Menendez (D-NJ) 11/12: “Will President Trump call out Turkey's relationship with Hamas, the Palestinian organization that continues to terrorize Israel on a daily basis? Will he stand by our ally Israel or will his personal interest and affinity for strong men win out once again?”

Shaheen (D-NH) 11/12: Shaheen Statement Ahead of President Erdogan's Visit to the White House: “It’s inexcusable that this visit is going forward”

Casey (D-PA) 11/19: “...Russia has already occupied U.S. military camps in the region, and Turkish President Erdogan's deepening relationship with Vladimir Putin--as evidenced by Turkey's purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system--only undercuts U.S. influence in Syria, all but guaranteeing that U.S. interests will not be represented in a future Syrian political settlement. President Trump's decision serves to benefit Vladimir Putin. Prior to withdrawal, the United States was Russia's only military equal in Syria, but Russia is now the primary and, according to some analysts, the sole power broker in Syria…”

Schumer (D-NY) 11/12: “Instead of calling upon the House and the Senate to pass the economic sanctions bill that had been introduced, he rewarded Erdogan for all of those actions with a coveted White House meeting. That is not the way we should be treating somebody who has just spent the last 5 weeks thumbing his nose at the United States, undermining our interests, endangering our allies, strengthening Russia, Assad, and Iran, and increasing threats to our ally Israel.”

Schumer (D-NY) 11/7: “...next week President Trump will welcome Turkish President Erdogan to the White House. Frankly, it is confounding that President Trump is rolling out the welcome mat to an autocrat whose recent actions have threatened our allies and partners…”

Casey (D-PA) 11/6: “...I know this is a position held by Senators in both parties, but I oppose President Trump's recent decision to withdraw U.S. Armed Forces from Syria.”

Menendez (D-NJ) 11/5: “...How many more times do we need to see Turkey betray the values upon which NATO was established? How many more times do we need to see President Erdogan visit Moscow, Sochi, or any other Russian city to kiss Putin's ring? How many more journalists need to be locked up by Erdogan before we stop calling Turkey a democracy?”

...On Syria (including calls for release of Austin Tice)

Warner (D-VA) 11/20: Warner Urges Action to Protect Kurds Who Worked with U.S. Forces in Syria

Raskin (D-MD) 11/19: Floor statement, “Calling for the immediate release of Austin Tice”

Cuellar (D-TX) 11/12: In Support Of The Safe Return Of Austin Bennett Tice

Kilmer (D-WA) 11/12: Floor statement, “Calling for the release of Austin Tice” 

Norton (D-DC) 11/12: Floor statement, “Calling for the release of Austin Tice” 

...On Iran

Rubio (R-FL) 11/22: Rubio Praises New Sanctions Against Iran's Minister of Information and Communications Technology

Murphy (D-CT) 11/21: “The Iranian regime must listen and respond to the growing protest movement, and not use violence to shut it down or cut off the right of Iranian citizens to communicate. Iran's history of brutal repression of civil discourse is a reminder of the grave danger faced by these brave citizens who are standing up to the regime, and the U.S. should support their right to air their grievances...Unfortunately, these protests come at a moment when President Trump is trying to slash and burn U.S. funding for democracy promotion, and when our Iran policy is a mess, with no real prospect for negotiations that would release the unilateral sanctions that have crippled the economy and hurt the Iranian people.”

McConnell (R-KY) 11/19: “Iran needs to stop pursuing nuclear weapons and long-range missile capabilities, stop supporting terror and cyber offensives, stop causing bloodshed to weaken its neighbors, and stop the horrific mistreatment of its own people.”

Kaine (D-VA) 11/19: “Authorities in Iran have shut down the nation’s internet in an attempt to silence protesters and have callously referred to demonstrators as ‘thugs.’ Reports indicate at least a dozen people have been killed, more injured, and over 1000 have been arrested. I stand with those who are protesting peacefully and condemn the Iranian government’s crackdown on its own citizens.”

Cruz (R-TX) 11/18: Why the U.S. Must Stop Issuing Civil-Nuclear Waivers

Cruz (R-TX), Graham (R-SC), and Cheney (R-WY) 11/18: “We applaud President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo for today's news that the Trump administration will finally end the waiver for civil nuclear work at Iran's Fordow facility, which was dug out of the side of a mountain to build nuclear weapons. Ending this waiver is another important step in tearing up the catastrophic-Obama Iran nuclear deal once and for all. The administration should now end the waivers for the remaining projects related to the deal, especially the Arak reactor, Iran's heavy water reactor. There is no justification for extending that waiver in light of recent confirmation that Iran is violating its heavy water obligations, let alone for letting Iran continue to build up its program - not at Fordow, and not at Arak. We will continue to urge the administration to stop issuing all civil-nuclear waivers and call on our colleagues to expeditiously take up our legislation, end these waivers, and hold Iran accountable."

Rubio (R-FL) 11/18: Rubio Renews Call for Bob Levinson's Immediate Release

Cotton (R-AR) 11/16: "The Iranian people are tired of the regime ignoring their basic needs while funneling vast sums to terrorists throughout the Middle East. We must stand with these brave protestors demanding accountability from the ayatollahs."

Cotton (R-AR) 11/6: Pitching the Global Hostage Act - S. 2776 [“this week marks the 40th anniversary of the Iran hostage crisis, when 66 Americans were seized by an armed mob fueled by the anti-American ravings of Iran's revolution clerics. Those Americans would finally come home safely, thanks to a pressure campaign of financial sanctions and trade embargoes by the United States and their partners, but not everyone came home safely from Iran. Before the crisis ended, five American airmen and three marines lay dead, killed in an ill-fated rescue mission necessitated by Iran's lawless deeds. This week's anniversary is a useful reminder of the true nature of the regime in Tehran. Behind Iran's smooth talking, Western-educated diplomats are a band of radical clerics that act more like a criminal gang than the rulers of a sovereign nation. Consider how the regime commemorated the 40th anniversary of their crime--not with apologies, like a civilized nation might. No, with anti-American rallies where uniformed soldiers--uniformed soldiers, not clerics, not activists--uniformed soldiers led chants of `Death to America' and `Death to Israel.' In other words, Iran is unreformed and unrepentant…”]

Cheney (R-WY), Cruz (R-TX), and Graham (R-SC) 11/5: Rep. Cheney, Sens. Cruz, Graham to President Trump: Tear up the Iran Nuclear Deal Once and For All

Cruz (R-TX) 11/4: Sen. Cruz Issues Statement on the 40th Anniversary of the Iran Hostage Crisis

Isakson (R-GA), Blumenthal (D-CT), and Leahy (D-VT) 11/4: Senators Introduce Bipartisan Resolution Recognizing 40th Anniversary of Iran Hostage Crisis

...On Miscellaneous Other Mideast Matters

Murphy (D-CT) 11/26: Murphy: Involvement In The Middle East Is Vital To U.S. National Security Interests [speech at Manama Dialogue; excerpt: “...I think this Administration’s goal is to take sides and it is a fundamental reorientation of the historic position of the United States with respect to the process. In most moments, it looks as if this Administration is acting as a political arm of the Netanyahu re-election efforts rather than as an intermediary.”]

Kaine (D-VA) 11/22: Kaine Demands Trump Administration Explain Saudi Arabia Troop Increase

Watson Coleman (D-NJ) 11/8: Watson Coleman Joins Delegation to Israel, Meets with Israeli and Palestinian Leaders

McSally (R-AZ) 11/4: McSally Seeks to Advance U.S.-Israel Water Collaboration

 

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