Legislative Round-up: April 9, 2021

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters
2. The Battle Taking Shape Around Biden Decision to Resume Palestinian Aid
3. Hearings & Markups
4. On the Record

Shameless plugs:

In recent weeks FMEP, in partnership with the Middle East Institute, held an 8-part webinar series for members of Congress and their staff examining key aspects of the Israel-Palestine conflict & how they relate to U.S. policy. The series featured an amazing line-up of experts, and was co-moderated by MEI’s Khaled Elgindy and FMEP’s Lara Friedman (me!). And it turns out that the webinars were so good we decided to make them public. See: Israel, Palestine & the Role of Congress: An Accelerated Learning Series

Also, ICYMI, FMEP hosted two great webinars this week, both of which are well worth watching:

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.


1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters

(EVERY DAY IS A GOOD DAY TO TARGET UNRWA & PA) HR 2374: Introduced 4/5 by Sherman (D-CA), Zeldin (R-NY), Gottheimer (D-NJ), Mast (R-FL), and Trone (D-MD), “To require the Secretary of State to submit annual reports reviewing the educational material used by the Palestinian Authority, and for other purposes,” aka, the “Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act.”  Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. This bill was previously introduced (in various forms, by various groupings similar to the cosponsors on this new bill) in 2018 (HR 6034) and 2019 (HR 2343). Mast (R-FL) tweet in support of the bill is here. Also see: Bipartisan House members reintroduce Palestinian education bill (Jewish Insider), US lawmakers reintroduce bill to address hate, violence in Palestinian schools (Jewish News Syndicate), US Lawmakers Reintroduce Bill to Require State Department Review of Palestinian Curriculum (Algemeiner)

(LEGISLATE US-ISRAEL LAW ENFORCEMENT COOPERATION!) HR 2409 (text): Introduced 4/8 by Keller (R-PA) and no cosponsors, “To support security and law enforcement training and cooperation between the United States and Israel.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Per Keller’s press release (which includes a link to bill text), the bill seeks to “cultivate greater relations with Israel, America’s closest ally in the Middle East, by making the official policy of the United States to support bilateral law enforcement training between the two nations.” Also see Keller’s tweet, “Proud to introduce the U.S.-Israel Cooperation Expansion Act today to cultivate greater relations with Israel by making the official policy of the United States to support bilateral law enforcement training between the two nations.”

Letters

(PRESIDENT BIDEN: RE-JOIN THE JCPOA!) Kaine-Murphly letter to Biden: Since last week a letter has reportedly been circulating in the Senate, led by Kaine (D-VA) and Murphy (D-CT), supporting a return to the JCPOA and calling on the Biden Administration “to build on its initial mutual return with Iran to the JCPOA by promptly engaging in follow-on discussions on a regional diplomatic strategy to restrain Iran that involves not only the P5+1 but also Israel and the Gulf States. This includes to begin making swift progress on key issues of regional concern, including Iran’s missile program and its support for surrogates and proxies, and we encourage you over time to extend the nuclear limitations in the JCPOA either through a new nuclear agreement or by an extension of the existing one. Finally, we request your assurance that you will prioritize the release of all Americans and U.S Lawful Permanent Residents in any discussions with Iran.” Jewish Insider reports that as of 4/8, a total of 14 senators had signed on to the letter.

(NO RE-STARTING AID TO PALS WITHOUT GOING THROUGH NEW HOOPS) Cruz et al letter to Blinken: On 4/8, Cruz (R-TX) led a letter, signed by 17 Senate GOP colleagues, objecting to Biden Administration plans to resume Palestinian assistance. Cruz press release is here; Media coverage: Republican Senators Oppose Palestinian Aid in Letter to Blinken (Bloomberg); Breitbart 4/8: Ted Cruz, Republican Senators Say Biden Funding to Palestinians Violates Anti-terror Law. Notably: The Cruz et al letter urges the Biden administration to “pause” the planned new funding until USAID meets a new list of new conditions (on top of the myriad conditions, restrictions, certifications, etc. that already exist in U.S. law). These conditions (which are likely to show up, in some form, in legislation backed by Cruz et al in the future) demand that no new programs for the Palestinians be funded until USAID has:

  1. Implemented the recommendations described in the March 19 GAO report.
  2. Certified to Congress how such aid is compliant with the TFA and other Congressionally imposed restrictions, and fully briefed members on the rationales for such certifications.
  3. Clarified to Congress in an unclassified format what the Biden-Harris administration and the State Department understand to be programs that ‘directly benefit’ the PA pursuant to the TFA, and the degree to which those understandings differ from either explicit or implicit past guidance used by the State Department.
  4. Ensured that necessary aid being provided to the Palestinians, including as envisioned by Congress and described in the TFA, is tightly targeted to ensure that it benefits the Palestinian people and not the PA or Hamas.”

(DON’T REMOVE SANCTIONS OR REJOIN THE JCPOA) Senate GOP letter to Biden: On 4/6, Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) led a letter to President Biden, cosigned by Rubio (R-FL), Toomey (R-PA), and Young (R-IN), opposing removal of sanctions on Iran and rejoining the JCPOA. The letter opens:  “We are deeply troubled by recent news reports that the United States may soon remove sanctions on Iran in order to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In light of today’s talks in Vienna,and any future negotiations that may follow, we urge you to adhere to the principles outlined in the February 26, 2021, letter sent to you by five Republican Senate ranking members”. [Note: the referenced 2/26 letter was covered previously in the Round-Up].  Inhofe press release is here.

(PRESSURE KSA TO END YEMEN BLOCKADE) Dingell et al letter to Biden: On 4/6, Reps Dingell (D-MI), Pocan (D-WI) and Khanna (D-CA) led a letter to President Biden, cosigned by 76 Democratic colleagues, noting that they “remain alarmed by the continuation of Saudi Arabia’s unconscionable blockade of Yemen” and urging him to “use all available U.S. leverage with the Saudi regime to demand an immediate and unconditional end to its blockade, which threatens 16 million malnourished Yemenis living on the brink of famine.” Dingell press release is here. Other tweets and press releases: Pocan (D-WI), Khanna (D-CA), Khanna (D-CA), Omar (D-MN), Levin (D-MI), Lawrence (D-MI), Pressley (D-MA)

(DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT RE-OPENING PLO OFFICE IN USA) Lankford-Grassley letter to Blinken: On 3/31, Senators Lankord (R-OK) and Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to SecState Blinken warning him against even thinking about trying to find a way to re-open the PLO mission in the US that gets around US law that is designed to enable lawfare groups to sue the PLO out of existence. Press release is here.

2. The Battle Taking Shape Around Biden Decision to Resume Palestinian Aid

This week the Biden Administration moved to restore aid to the Palestinians, acting in a manner that is entirely consistent with U.S. law and with the previously expressed will of Congress, as I laid out in detail over the past two week (my explainer on U.S. aid for the Palestinians, in general, is here; my explainer on U.S. aid to UNRWA is here. For additional excellent explainers, see:Twitter thread by Joel Braunold (Center for Middle East Peace & Economic Cooperation); Analysis by Michael Koplow (IPF); Twitter thread by Ilan Goldenberger (CNAS)

Notwithstanding the fact that the Biden Administration – in restoring this funding (all of which was already appropriated by Congress explicitly for the purposes that the Biden Administration will now use it) – this week’s announcement instantly became the focus of an entirely manufactured partisan controversy. While key Democrats welcomed – cautiously, and with caveats – the move, Republicans in Congress (those who spoke out) were united in attacking the Biden Administration for a litany of sins, including more assertions that Biden is violating the law and flouting the will of Congress (he isn’t), and allegations that he is capitulating to and rewarding terrorism (he isn’t).

This is an evolving story. In its latest chapter, it appears that some House Republicans are trying to block the Biden Administration’s plans for Palestinian aid — see: Republicans delay Biden administration’s funds to Palestinians (Jerusalem Post, 4/8). Also see: J Street: Republican hold on aid to Palestinians ‘cruel, not pro Israel’ (Jerusalem Post, 4/9). It remains to be seen for how long Republicans will try to block the funding, for how long Democratic leadership will let them do it, and assuming the Republicans won’t release their hold on the funds, whether the Biden Administration will decide to go ahead anyway (there is at least one clear precedent for an Administration doing so – see: Clinton Overrules Ros-Lehtinen’s Hold On U.S. Aid To Palestinians (ThinkProgress, 4/11/12)

More twists and turns in this story, as of 4/9/21:

  • Congress Must Oversee Renewed Assistance to the Palestinians (Foundation for the Defense of Democracies)
  • Biden push to restore funding for Palestinian refugees sparks lobbying fight (Foreign Lobby 4/6), and Foreign Lobby 4/7 update: “Israeli-American activist David Bedein has hired a former longtime aide to senior House Appropriations Committee member Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) as he seeks to additional restrictions on the resumption of US assistance to UNRWA…Jeff Speaks and his Kentucky-based firm JBS Communications is slated to lobby on UNRWA funding for Bedein and his Jerusalem-based Center for Near East Policy Research. The registration was effective March 22, the same date as a separate registration for Bedein by Edward Kimball and his Maryland firm EJK, which Foreign Lobby Report first reported Tuesday…”

Responses from Democrats in Congress to Resumption of Palestinian Assistance

HFAC Committee chair Meeks (D-NY) 4/7: “I applaud Secretary Blinken and the Biden Administration for announcing its resumption of U.S. assistance to the Palestinian people. The resumption of assistance to the Palestinian people, in accordance with all U.S laws and policy goals, is critical in promoting the immediate and future welfare of the Palestinian people. Today, as COVID-19 and economic suffering grip the West Bank and Gaza, this assistance will undoubtedly improve lives, address food insecurity, and bolster a struggling hospital system. Our resumed security assistance will aid law and order and help prevent terrorism. Additionally, our support for UNRWA will keep Palestinian children in the classroom but out of Hamas run schools. The overall effort to reset the U.S. relationship with Palestine is in full accordance with American values and interests, as well as our allies. Israel’s security and long-term survival as a Jewish state is best assured by a two-state solution negotiated between the parties, with the United States serving as a key partner in that process. I look forward to working with the State Department, as well as our friends in Israel and the Palestinian Territories to build upon this programming and move us closer to a lasting solution to the conflict.

HFAC/Middle East Subcommittee chair Deutch (D-FL) 4/7: Twitter thread (consolidated here) – “I welcome the announcement of the restoration of humanitarian & development assistance to the Palestinian people. The US has long provided assistance that contributes to the health, well-being and prosperity of Palestinians, and to the overall stability of the region. Our bilateral assistance is provided in accordance with all applicable US laws, like the Taylor Force Act, as the Biden admin. has noted.Despite my serious concerns about transparency & accountability at UNRWA, withholding assistance that provides healthcare & education to children during a global pandemic risks further deteriorating an already dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza made worse by Hamas.The Admin. is committed to seeking reform of UNRWA & I’ll insist that they follow through on that commitment. The $10 million for conflict mitigation supports peacebuilding by establishing people to people relationships that form the foundation of any future peace.There has been longstanding bipartisan support for these programs, as evidenced by the passage of the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act last year.

Appropriations Committee/SFOPS Subcommittee Chair Lee (D-CA) 4/7: Statement – “Over the last several years, despite rising demands, extreme financial burdens, and the outbreak of COVID-19, UNRWA has managed to continue its mandate providing vital health, education, and social services to approximately 5.7 million Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Today’s announcement is a long-overdue step toward resuming positive U.S. relations with the Palestinian people and re-establishing the United States as a credible and constructive leader in the region. The Trump Administration’s decision to end all humanitarian contributions to UNRWA in 2018, despite the fact that there was no alternative service provider, was both needlessly cruel and dangerously impulsive. It also weakened American credibility on the world stage and further undercut the goal of a two-state solution. As Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, I support the Biden Administration’s decision to resume U.S. contributions to UNRWA, and I look forward to working with the Department of State and USAID to ensure that we continue to provide critically-needed humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, in addition to the Congressionally-directed Fiscal Year 2020 and Fiscal Year 2021 economic and development assistance in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

McCollum (D-MN) 4/7: Tweet – “Glad to see the Biden administration restoring U.S. aid for @UNRWA. The Palestinian people deserve access to humanitarian assistance, especially during this pandemic. These funds will help support education, health care, food assistance, & other emergency response efforts.

Courtney (D-CT) 4/8: Tweet – “@POTUS kept his promise to restore humanitarian aid for Palestinian refugees in the Middle East & to start reestablishing America’s leadership role. Kudos to @SecBlinken on the move to ensure our UNRWA support is targeted solely at humanitarian aid.

Price (D-NC) 4/7: Tweet – “I applaud @POTUS for restarting U.S. economic, security, and humanitarian assistance to the West Bank & Gaza, including to UNRWA and the East Jerusalem Hospital Network. This move is critical to saving lives, promoting peace, and combatting #COVID19.

Responses from Republicans in Congress to Resumption of Palestinian Assistance

Cruz (R-TX) and 17 Senate GOP colleagues: On 4/8, Cruz and friends sent a letter to Blinken urging the Biden Administration to “pause” plans to for Palestinian assistance, and laying out a list of new conditions they want met before any such funding can go forward (see Section 1, above, for details).

SFRC ranking member Risch (R-ID) and HFAC ranking member McCaul (R-TX) 4/7: “Resuming assistance to the West Bank and Gaza without concessions from the Palestinian Authority (PA) undermines U.S. interests. The PA is spending millions annually to compensate terrorists while the international community pays for the well-being of the Palestinian people. A recent Government Accountability Office report rightly calls for increased oversight of Palestinian assistance to ensure compliance with anti-terrorism policies. The Biden Administration should use all available leverage to secure behavior changes from the PA, including ending terror payments. We will continue to scrutinize every proposed program to ensure the administration’s actions are in lockstep with the Taylor Force Act and in compliance with all laws governing assistance to the Palestinians. Additionally, we are disappointed that the Biden Administration has decided to resume funding for UNRWA without securing any reforms from the organization.”

Graham (R-SC) 4/7:  “I am deeply troubled by recent decisions from the Biden Administration to turn a blind eye to behavior by the Palestinian Authority. In 2019, the Palestinian Authority provided $343 million to subsidize Pay to Slay attacks where terrorists and their families receive cash rewards for attacking Israelis and Americans. Instead of reforming and putting an end to these attacks, they have doubled down on their commitment to subsidizing terrorism. Despite this, the Biden Administration today announced it will resume support of the Palestinians by providing at least $150 million to UNRWA. When it comes to the Palestinians, UNRWA does little more than subsidize a corrupt regime and a status quo in the West Bank and in Jordan.  UNRWA has been historically antagonistic to Israel and an impediment to peace. Additionally, recent decisions by the State Department to provide funding for projects in the West Bank come close to violating the provisions of the Taylor Force Act.  As the author of the Taylor Force Act and the Ranking Member on the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, I fully expect a complete honoring of the letter and intent of the law. A willingness to make concessions to the Palestinians without demanding anything in return is deeply troubling and should worry us all, particularly as the Biden Administration makes an effort to resume nuclear negotiations with the Iranians.”

Lamborn (R-CO) 4/9: Tweet – “Biden is again funding the Palestinian Authority which pays murderers & their families for committing acts of terror. This funding violates the Taylor Force Act, bipartisan legislation I authored that is now law. We should never send tax dollars to groups who support terrorism.” [NOTE: Biden is NOT funding the PA and the funding, as it is being provided, doesn’t violate TFA]

Lamborn (R-CO) 4/9 – Tweet – “Joe Biden is also restoring funding to the Untied Nations Relief & Work Agency (UNWRA), which promotes anti-Semitic education and teaches a new generation of Palestinians to reject Israel’s right to exist. It’s Obama’s #AmericaLast policies all over again.”

Womack (R-AR) 4/7: Tweet – “The Biden Admin is forgetting to add that this money is being sent to a corrupt & known sponsor of terror. It won’t go towards aid—it will be used to fund the Palestinian Authority’s pay-for-slay program. It’s dangerous & likely violates the Taylor Force Act. Congress should act.”

Barr (R-KY) 4/7: Tweet – “The Palestinian Authority never ended its “Pay to Slay” scheme of paying the families of deceased terrorists. Despite this atrocity, ⁦@JoeBiden is again forcing American taxpayers to finance antisemitism.

Stefanick (R-NY) 4/7: Tweet – “Gifting millions of taxpayer dollars to the Palestinian Authority & corrupt UNRWA without demanding strict reforms is a slap in the face to the American people & our interests. We have no assurance this aid will not be used to pay terrorists. This decision is weak & shameful.”

Scott (R-FL) 4/1: Tweet – “@POTUS spending MILLIONS of American taxpayer dollars to fund corrupt Palestinian leaders who openly support terrorism and wage war against our democratic ally Israel is unacceptable. Biden must protect Israel and taxpayers and reverse this decision now”.  Linked to press release, Sen. Rick Scott to President Biden: Stop Funding Palestinian Terrorists

Media Reports that Discuss Congressional Response

i24 News 4/7: US: Biden administration earmarks $40 million for Palestinian security

The Hill 4/6: Biden-backed anti-terror law complicates US-Palestinian ties

Times of Israel: White House again quietly boosts aid to Palestinians; some in Congress cry foul

3. Hearings & Markups

April 15: The House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and Global Counterterrorism will hold a hearing entitled, 10 Years of War: Examining the Ongoing Conflict in Syria.” Scheduled witnesses are: Lina Khatib, Chatham House; Omar Alshogre, Syrian Emergency Task Force; and Jennifer Cafarella, Institute for the Study of War.

April 8: The House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hosted a “conversation” with the makers of the movie “The Dissident,” about slain columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

4. On the Record

Members On The Record…

Re: Israel & Palestine

Lankford (R-OK) 4/8: Tweets – “1/2 Bahrain and the UAE’s #HolocaustRemembrance is yet another example of President Trump’s leadership to bring these countries together with Israel through the Abraham Accords.” & “2/2 President Trump delivered arguably the most significant peace deal in the Middle East in a quarter century & today’s observance is another example of why it’s so important to the Middle East and the world.”

Daines (R-MT) 4/8: Tweet – “On this #HolocaustRemembranceDay we stand with Israel and the Jewish people around the world to remember the millions of innocent lives that were killed in the name of hate and antisemitism. We must never let evil triumph. We must #NeverForget.

Hayes (D-CT) 4/7: Tweet – “Met with Tree of Life and Partners to discuss human rights, equitable vaccine distribution, and social justice issues regarding Palestine and Israel relations.

Cotton (R-AR) 4/6: Tweet – “President Biden has given the @IntlCrimCourt a green light to engage in politicized investigations of U.S. servicemembers & our Israeli partners. It’s shameful the administration is refusing to defend American sovereignty & stand with the State of Israel. Linked to article, Biden lifts sanctions on International Criminal Court officials (Politico)

Stivers (R-OH) 4/6: Tweet – “Alcee Hastings was someone who’s [sic] friendship I cherished in Congress. From long sessions serving on the Rules Committee, to a CODEL to Israel we took together, I’m grateful for the many fond memories I have of him.

McCaul (R-TX) 4/5: press release – “The United States is committed to justice both at home and abroad, including when ICC prosecutors target military personnel in a rogue inquiry. There must be real consequences to their illegitimate attempts to bypass our country’s judicial process and our sovereignty. The United States is not a party to the ICC’s Rome Statute and therefore, our citizens are not at the mercy of the court. I strongly encourage the new prosecutor to put an end to the inquiry into U.S. personnel and the court’s recent ruling unfairly targeting Israel.”

Re: Iran

Tenney (R-NY) 4/8: Tweet – “The Maximum Pressure Campaign on Iran has worked and we need to stick with it. I’ll continue to oppose any effort to rejoin the deeply flawed JCPOA. Israel is on the front lines of Iran’s campaign of terrorism & extortion, and I’ll always stand with them.”  Linked to article, Mossad chief said heading to Washington in bid to block US return to Iran deal (Times of Israel)

Turner (R-OH) 4/8: Tweet – “The Biden administration is planning to relieve sanctions for Iran without proper concessions. This is dangerous—it would reward Iran for noncompliance and put our national security at risk.”

Scott (R-FL) 4/7: press release – “Sen. Rick Scott to President Biden: Prioritize National Security; Refuse Reckless Iran Deal” (tweet)

Womack (R-AR) 4/7: Tweet – “The Iran Nuclear deal was always fatally flawed and emboldened a rogue regime. Despite Iran’s malign actions in every arena, the Biden Admin is signaling a return to this misguided pact. It’s a bad posture. Lifting sanctions and re-entering this deal shouldn’t be a consideration.

Luria (D-VA) 4/7: Tweet – “I have serious reservations about re-starting negotiations with Iran while they continue to enrich uranium at dangerous and unacceptable levels. That’s why I introduced a bipartisan resolution (H.Res. 214) condemning their unchecked nuclear program.

Harshbarger (R-TN) 4/7: Tweet – “The Biden Administration should not provide sanctions relief to Iran until they’ve committed to reforming their hostile behavior.”

Cotton (R-AR) 4/7: Tweet – “Terror sanctions relief is inconsistent with Iran’s state sponsored terrorism.” Linked to tweet w/ video from @DYShor, “After repeated Q’s from @mitchellreports on the prospect of Iran terror sanctions relief, & after offering prolonged non-answer obfuscations (some of which I cut), @StateDeptSpox ultimately calls terror sanctions “inconsistent with the JCPOA”, & @APDiploWriter is rightly amazed.

Lesko (R-AZ) 4/7: Tweet – “Re-entering the Iran Nuclear Deal would be a huge foreign policy mistake. This deal has no real way to prevent Iran from building its nuclear arsenal and threatening our national security.”

Ernst (R-IA) 4/7: press release – Ernst: U.S. should be nowhere near re-entering the original Iran Nuclear Deal (Tweet)

Cotton (R-AR) 4/6: Tweet – “The Iranian delegation is full of bankers and oilmen. They’ve come to Vienna expecting US sanctions concessions from the Biden team.” Linked to tweet from @AbasAslani

Lowenthal (D-CA) 4/6: Tweet – “I strongly applaud renewed engagement with Iran. Only diplomacy can build a path to peace.” Linked to article, U.S., Iran expected to begin indirect nuclear talks in Vienna (Politico)

Cotton (R-AR) 4/6: Tweet – “The Iranian regime has held American Siamak Namazi hostage for over 2,000 days. The Biden administration’s first priority should be freeing American hostages, not offering sanctions relief to the ayatollahs.

Cotton (R-AR) 4/6: Tweet – “Stand with the Iranian people rather than the regime.” Linked to tweet and FoxNews clip posted by Xiyue Wang, “The Biden admin whitewashes IRI atrocity in the admin’s human rights report by lowering the number of Iranians killed in 2019 protest from 1500 to 304. Getting the JCPOA back has to take the precedence of everything.”

Steube (R-FL) 4/6: Tweet – “Unconscionable that Biden wants to make a deal with Iran without bringing our American hostages home. @RepublicanStudy has pledged no sanctions relief until ALL Americans come home.” Linked to article, Will Biden’s Return to the Iran Deal Abandon American Prisoners Held There — Again? (Elliott Abrams in the National Review)

Cotton (R-AR) 4/5: Tweet – “Just five months ago, Iran admitted to hiding nuclear research and gave no indication they would stop. As President Biden races back to the negotiating table, Iran shows no willingness to change its behavior.” Linked to article, Iran’s top nuclear scientist stayed in shadows but his work was uncovered (Reuters, 11/8/20)

Price (D-NC), Lee (D-CA), Connolly (D-VA), Yarmuth (D-KY), Schakowsky (D-IL), Welch (D-VT), Doggett (D-TX), Levin (D-MI), Lowenthal (D-NY), and Blumenauer (D-OR) 4/5: Representatives Applaud JCPOA Diplomatic Discussions

Cotton (R-AR) 4/5: Tweet – “Important fact for the Biden Administration to remember before sprinting back to a broken deal—” linked to video/tweet from NBC’s Ali Arouzi, “In an interview on state TV Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif is asked : ‘from zero to 100 how much of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policy has been in your hands over the last 8 years?’ He answers: ‘Zero’

Turner (R-OH) 4/5: Tweet – “President Biden’s misguided effort to reenter the Iran nuclear deal ignores that this flawed agreement is limited in time, does not address missiles or ICBMs, has an insufficient inspection regime & fails to address maligned activities against U.S. allies.” & “Reentering this fatally flawed agreement would make the U.S. and our allies less safe and aid Iran’s efforts toward building a nuclear weapon.” Linked to article, ‘First step:’ US, Iran to begin indirect nuclear-limit talks (Associated Press)

Zeldin (R-NY) 4/5: Tweet – “With Rob Malley’s declarations, Team Biden is clearly seeking to reengage Iran from a position of apologetic weakness eagerly relinquishing the Biden admin’s inherited position of strength. Their intent on offering up an embarrassingly pathetic fold is utterly gross incompetence.

Markey (D-MA) 4/3: Tweet – “Diplomacy is back under President Biden after Trump blew up the Iran Nuclear Deal in 2018. Pleased that all sides are returning to the negotiating table, as I called for in my Iran Diplomacy Act, to take war and the risk of an Iranian nuclear weapon off the table.” Linked to article, ‘First step:’ US, Iran to begin indirect nuclear-limit talks (AP)

Hagerty (R-TN) 4/3: Tweet – “As Biden rushes to return to flawed nuclear deal, he wants new ‘agreements’ to give sanctions relief while Iran is fueling terror, holding Americans hostage & building missiles. Precisely the sort of circumstance where Congressional oversight is warranted.” Linked to article, U.S. and Iran Agree to Resume Talks on Nuclear Deal (Wall Street Journal)

Scott (R-FL) 4/3: Tweet – “The disastrous Iran nuclear deal was President Obama’s mistake & President Trump was right to abandon it. @POTUS needs to prioritize U.S. national security & our ally Israel & oppose re-joining this deal without major changes.” Linked to press release on Scott resolution opposing return to the JCPOA, and to article, U.S. and Iran Agree to Indirect Talks on Returning to Nuclear Deal (New York Times)

Young (R-IN) 4/3: Tweet – A nuclear-armed Iran would pose a grave threat to U.S. national security interests and our allies and partners. #ICYMI: I proposed a bipartisan plan to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons and address the wide range of illicit Iranian behavior (link)”

Ernst (R-IA) 4/3: Tweet – “The loophole-ridden Iran Nuclear Deal lacked basic oversight & enforcement—and allowed a dishonest Iran to continue its destabilizing activity. Even to discuss rejoining the original Iran Deal right now is unwise.” Linked to article, U.S. and Iran Agree to Resume Talks on Nuclear Deal (Wall Street Journal)

McCarthy (R-CA) 4/3: Tweet – “Today marks 2,000 days since the government of Iran started illegally detaining American citizen Siamak Namazi. I have met with his family, and we will not rest until he and his father Baquer are safely returned. Iran must be held accountable for its crimes.”

Deutch (D-FL) 4/3: Tweet – “Today is Siamak Namazi’s 2000th day imprisoned in Iran. He & his father Baquer deserve to be reunited w/ their families. I’ll never stop fighting for them, Bob, & all American hostages that are/have been unjustly detained by the Iranian regime. Enough is enough. #FreeTheNamazis

Leahy (D-VT) 4/3: Tweet – “April 3rd is 2000 days that American hostage Siamak Namazi has suffered in Iran’s Evin Prison. His father, Baquer, is struggling to survive, unable to get medical care due to a travel ban. The US & intl community must end Iran’s hostage diplomacy once & for all. #FreeTheNamazis”

Coons (D-DE) 4/3: Tweet – “Today marks 2,000 days that US citizen Siamak Namazi has been unjustly held in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison. Tehran’s human rights abuses & hostage-taking must end. The US must continue to demand that Tehran release Siamak & allow him & his father to return home. #FreeTheNamazis

Re: Saudi Arabia & Yemen

Tlaib (D-MI) 4/9: Tweet – “400K children will die by years end unless @POTUS acts to end the US/Saudi/UAE blockade of Yemen, no excuses.   To Iman, the hunger strikers, and @LiberateYemen – your courage and bravery inspires me every day. I’m with you all the way.” Linked to article, I’m on hunger strike until the U.S. ends all support for the Saudi-led blockade against Yemen (Washington Post)

Sanders (I-VT) 4/7: Tweet – “The U.S.-backed Saudi war in Yemen has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. I join with my colleagues in calling on the Biden administration to demand an end to the Saudi blockade and allow desperately needed aid into the country.

Pelosi (D-CA) 4/6: Pelosi Statement on Sentencing of Abdulrahman Al-Sadhan [related Twitter thread here]

Tlaib (D-MI) 4/6: Tweet – “By the time you watch this video, another Yemeni child will die of starvation directly caused by the US-backed Saudi blockade. @POTUS, we cannot be a party to this—force an end to this blockade immediately.” Linked to tweet/video posted by @LiberateYemen

Articles and Reports Related to the Hill

The Forward 4/7: Rep. Jamaal Bowman meets with Israeli Consul General after criticism of Israel’s vaccination drive

Jewish Insider 4/7: Kyrsten Sinema’s independent streak runs deep [Although Sinema got her start in politics in left-wing activism, affiliated with anti-war groups like CODEPINK that have taken stances sharply criticizing Israel, there is no record of Sinema ever expressing such views herself. She has become a reliable ‘yes’ vote on pro-Israel legislation. As a member of Congress, she voted against the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, a position adopted by a large swath of Jewish leadership. She has spoken at AIPAC-affiliated events in Arizona and the AIPAC policy conference; after her 2019 speech…”]

JTA/Times of Israel 4/7: Alcee Hastings, Black congressman who led advocacy on Jewish issues, dies at 84

JTA 4/6: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez meets with top NYC Jewish group for first time since assuming office

Jewish Insider 4/6: A top Democratic foreign policy staffer reflects on 14 years on Capitol Hill [“‘Support for Israel remains strong. It remains bipartisan. We will weather whatever immediate storms,’ Silverberg said.”]

Jewish Insider 4/6: AOC engages with JCRC-NY at last

The Hill 4/5: When it comes to the Iran nuclear deal, what’s a moderate Democrat to do? [JINSA]

Jerusalem Post 4/4: House Republicans urge Biden to curb ties with PA over ICC complaint

Times of Israel 4/3: Congressman says he’s consulted with Israel about US Capitol security

The New Arab 4/3: Growing support for Palestinians in US Congress, says Rashida Tlaib

Haaretz 4/2: Growing Support in U.S. Congress for Palestinian Rights, Rashida Tlaib Says

Algemeiner 4/2: ‘We Cannot Take for Granted’ Support for US-Israel Ties, Argues Progressive Congressman Torres in Interview