Legislative Round-Up: May 1, 2020

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

Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Legislative Round-Up was conceived. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

Making Sense of Israel’s Domestic Political Circus, ft.  Dahlia Scheindlin (Israeli public opinion expert, strategic analyst) & Neri Zilber (journalist, analyst, author), in conversation with Peter Beinart

Coronavirus & Israel’s Supreme Court: Disclosing Structural Failures & Inequities in Israeli Policies, ft. Hassan Jabareen (Adalah), Jessica Montell (Hamoked), Michael Sfard (Israeli Human Rights Lawyer), in conversation with Lara Friedman


1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters

(KSA ACCOUNTABILITY FOR KHASHOGGI MURDER) HR. XXX: According to an April 30the report from  Buzzfeed, “House Democrats are working on new legislation to force the Trump administration to release secret findings on the full extent of Saudi Arabia’s role in the brutal killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.” Full Buzzfeed report, including comments from Schiff (D-CA) and Malinowski (D-NJ), is here.


(EXTEND IRAN ARMS EMBARGO) AIPAC-backed letter to Pompeo: On 4/30, Reuters reported that nearly 382 House members have signed on to a letter urging SecState Pompeo to work with “allies and like-minded partners, including through the United Nations Security Council” to extend the UN’s arms embargo against Iran. The article notes that the letter was “seen” by Reuters, suggesting that its text is not available to the public; however, the quotes from the letter included in the article (along with the fact that it is being led by Engel, D-NY), and McCaul, R-TX) confirm that this is the Iran-focused letter debuted around the March 2020 AIPAC policy conference. The letter, in fact, was one of three “asks” of House members, laid out in the printed “Lobbying Agenda” distributed to conference-goers (and has been featured on AIPAC’s website on the “Legislative Agenda” page ever since). The Reuters article makes no mention of AIPAC’s role in the letter.

(HELP RESTART AID TO PALESTINIANS) House Dems letter to US Ambassador to UN: On 4/28, Rep. Dingell (D-MI) led a letter, co-signed by 57 House colleagues, sent to US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft. The letter seeks Craft’s “assistance in the effort to restart U.S. humanitarian assistance to Palestinians, including UNRWA” in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter notes that “The U.S. government has funding available through its Migration and Refugee Assistance and Economic Support Fund programs for immediate obligation to address this deteriorating humanitarian situation. The administration need only obligate these funds – their use requires neither additional legislative language nor supplemental appropriations.” Press release is here. Also see: Middle East Memo – US: Congress members urge Trump to restore aid to Palestinians

(INVESTIGATE REPORT OF SAUDI OIL FLOTILLA HEADED TO US) Letter to Sec. Ross: On 4/24, 10 House members sent a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross requesting an investigation into reports of a flotilla of ships headed to the U.S. loaded with Saudi crude oil.  The letter urges the Commerce Department “to begin an immediate investigation into the potential illegal delivery of crude oil by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia into the United States oil market.” Press release is here.

2. Hearings

4/28: Chairman Deutch Hosts Virtual Subcommittee Briefing on Situation in Yemen (“The Subcommittee members were joined by experts who provided first-hand accounts of the conditions in Yemen: Radhya Al-Mutawakel, Co-Founder and Chairperson of Mwatana for Human Rights; Abdulghani Al-Iryani, Senior Researcher at Sana’a Center For Strategic Studies; Daniel Schneiderman, Head of Advocacy and Research for U.S. Program at International Crisis Group; and Elana DeLozier, Research Fellow in the Bernstein Program on Gulf and Energy Policy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.”

3. On the Record


This week there were lots of member statements marking both Israel’s Memorial Day and Israel’s National Day — statements referencing shared values and interests but not mentioning the increasingly likely/imminent annexation of West Bank territory by Israel. Included below are the tiny number that hinted at the policy issues at stake (if you want to see the rest, check member websites/Facebook/Twitter)]

Engel (D-NY) 5/1: Engel Statement on Germany’s Designation of Hezbollah as a Terror Organization

Pelosi (D-CA) 4/28: Pelosi Statement Celebrating Israeli Independence Day [“…The stories of our two, proud nations are united by our shared commitment to mutual security and prosperity as well as our shared democratic values.  That is why, last December, the House of Representatives passed a resolution reaffirming that ‘Only the outcome of a two-state solution that enhances stability and security for Israel, Palestinians and their neighbors can both ensure the state of Israel’s survival as a Jewish and democratic state and fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own.’…”]

Inhofe (R-OK) 4/27: Inhofe Speaks to Sec. Ross About Tariff Request

Cruz (R-TX) 4/27: Sen. Cruz Applauds Trump Administration for Reported Move to Reimpose United Nations Sanctions on Iran

Risch (R-ID) 4/27: Chairman Risch Statement on Iran’s Launch of a Military Satellite