Heads up! NORPAC week-long Virtual Mission to Washington, May 3-6, 2021
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.
(NO US AID TO VIOLATE PALESTINIAN RIGHTS) HR 2590 (text): Introduced 4/15 by McCollum (D-MN) and 13 original cosponsors — Rush (D-IL), Davis (D-IL), Carson (D-IN), Newman (D-IL), Omar (D-MN), Pocan (D-WI), Grijalva (D-AZ), Tlaib (D-MI), Pressley (D-MA), Bush (D-MO), Bowman (D-NY), Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Garcia (D-IL) — “To promote and protect the human rights of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation and to ensure that United States taxpayer funds are not used by the Government of Israel to support the military detention of Palestinian children, the unlawful seizure, appropriation, and destruction of Palestinian property and forcible transfer of civilians in the West Bank, or further annexation of Palestinian land in violation of international law.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. McCollum press release is here, including the long list of organizations supporting the bill; her tweet announcing the bill is here.
The bill is being widely reported (see links below) as a measure to “condition” or “restrict” or “regulate” aid to Israel. Such characterizations – while great as click-bait in headlines – are hyperbolic, as the bill does none of these things. Nonetheless, the bill absolutely represents a powerful challenge to Israeli policies and to the longstanding U.S. approach of treating Israeli impunity – when it comes to U.S. aid – as one more entitlement. Here are the details of what the bill would do and why it matters:
- Prohibition: The binding provisions of the bill (as opposed to non-binding provisions, in the form of findings, a sense of Congress, and a statement of policy) open with a prohibition on Israel using US aid for various problematic purposes. This prohibition is not tied to any reductions or conditions on aid or other punitive actions – that is, as included in the bill, it is exhortative and prescriptive, as opposed to enforceable, Yet, if this prohibition were to become law, it could become a legal touchstone for future legislative attempts to put actual conditions on aid. And given that funds are fungible – something Congress clearly understands when dealing with Palestinian aid – meaningful conditions would have to go beyond “use restrictions”.
- Certification: Based on the prohibition, the bill requires the Secretary of State to certify to Congress either that (a) Israel is NOT violating the prohibition, or (b) that Israel HAS violated the prohibition, accompanied by a report “describing in detail the amount of such funds used by the Government of Israel” with respect to such violations and “each activity supported by such funds.” This requirement crosses a red line for many defenders of Israel, who oppose any official U.S. government acknowledgement of Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, and who would no doubt fear that such a report would strengthen future calls for conditions on aid to Israel (including cuts, where those conditions are violated), as well as strengthen other efforts to impose accountability on Israel for its actions/policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians.
- Human Rights reporting: The bill would also expand an existing reporting requirement (under 22 U.S.C. 2151n) to include detailed data on Israeli violations of Palestinians’ human rights, specifically with respect to treatment of children, land seizures and destruction of Palestinian property, and settlement activity. Again, Congress asking for such reporting would be unprecedented, and it would require a U.S. administration to formally acknowledge (or lie about) Israeli actions that for decades US administrations have sought to quietly ignore/downplay – actions that are also the focus of accountability efforts in other places today, including the ICC.
- Offshore procurement:.The bill would require annual reporting to Congress by the US Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) Comptroller General detailing Israel’s use of U.S. aid for offshore procurement (a special benefit Israel has enjoyed for years – allowing it to spend a large portion of its U.S. assistance outside the U.S.). The report would be required to identify “the specific programs and items funds for offshore procurement in Israel have been allocated to, including specific armed forces branches, units, and contractors.” It would have to assess “executive branch compliance with legislative requirements governing offshore procurements in Israel.” It would have to identify “in detail, all end-use monitoring the Government of Israel is subject to with respect to United States-origin defense articles.” And it would be required to analyze “the effects of offshore procurements on Israel’s military budget and domestic economy since 1991, including an assessment of the manner and extent to which these funds have directly or indirectly supported illegal Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank.” Again, Congress asking for such reporting would be unprecedented. Such reporting would open the door potentially for specific claims of Israeli violations of the Arms Export Control Act. It would also undermine the argument that all U.S. aid is vital to Israel’s self-defense and national security (an argument that is manifestly dishonest given the massive sums that Israel has spent since 1967 to implement the politically/ideologically-driven goal of de facto annexation of the West Bank), and provide concrete grounds for calls for conditions on aid to ensure U.S. taxpayers are no longer subsidizing settlements.
Also of note:
- AIPAC Rejects: Right out of the gate, AIPAC published a 7-part Twitter thread denouncing McCollum’s bill; McCollum responded on Twitter: “.@AIPAC *wants* U.S. taxpayer dollars to Israel to be spent on abusing Palestinian human rights? Imprisoning children? Demolishing homes? Annexing Palestinian land? Apparently they do.” Also see: AIPAC blasts bill proposed by Minnesota Rep. McCollum to condition US aid to Israel (Jewish News Syndicate). And from the archives: 2/12/20 – McCollum Statement: Hate Speech Makes AIPAC a Hate Group
- DMFI Rejects: The bill is also being opposed (unsurprisingly) by the Democratic Majority for Israel. As a reminder, this is the same group that spent $1.4 million to help defeat Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for president, $664k to try to defeat Jamal Bowman in NY, and $179K to help defeat Alex Morse in MA. It is also the same group whose board member earlier this week got into hot water for an openly racist, Islamophobic, misogynist tweet attacking, of all things, an engagement announcement (he eventually apologized but, come on – seriously?). It is also the group whose board member tweeted in 2018 “Gaza is full of monsters. Time to burn the whole place…”
- Rep. Gottheimer (D-NJ) rejects (no surprise)
- Media reports: Rep. Betty McCollum Leads Effort to Block Israel From Using U.S. Aid to Destroy Palestinian Homes (The Intercept); Progressive lawmaker to introduce bill seeking more oversight of Israel assistance (The Hill); Latest McCollum bill attempts to regulate aid to Israel (Jewish News Syndicate); J Street, Americans for Peace Now back bill restricting how Israel spends US aid (Times of Israel); Pro-Israel Groups Slam Bill Putting Conditions on Aid to Israel Co-Sponsored by Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez (The Algemeiner); Congresswoman introduces bill to condition US aid to Israel (Al-Monitor); House Democrats Introduce Bill Seeking to Regulate U.S. Aid to Israel (Haaretz)
(NO AID TO PALESTINIANS) HR 2445: Introduced 4/12 by Green (R-GA) and 3 GOP colleagues, “To prohibit assistance to the West Bank and Gaza that directly benefits the Palestinian Authority, and for other purposes,” aka, the “No Funding for Terrorists Act.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. According to Green’s press release, the bill will “Cut the caveats and exemptions from the original Taylor Force Act that gives the Secretary of State the option to send foreign assistance if he files paperwork to Congress explaining that the Palestinian Authority is taking steps to ends acts of violence against U.S. and Israeli Citizens.” Green’s tweet announcing the bill is here. Reminder: The Long List of Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Antisemitic, anti-Muslim Conspiracy Theories (Haaretz). My comment on Twitter: “It was only a matter of time til Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA) cast herself as defender of Israel…”
(DEFENDING ISRAEL’S QME) S. 1182: Introduced 4/15 by Menendez (D-NJ) and Feinstein (D-CA), “A bill to ensure that sales, exports, or transfers of F-35 aircraft do not compromise the qualitative military edge of the United States or Israel, and for other purposes,” aka, the “Secure F-35 Exports Act of 2021.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Also see: EXCLUSIVE As Biden advances UAE F-35 sale, senators seek more control of arms deals (Reuters). Note: This is the 2021 version of a bill Menendez & Feinstein introduced in October 2020, S. 4814(covered in the 10/23/20 edition of the Round-Up).
(NO WMDs FOR KSA) HR 2506/S. 1146: Introduced in the House 4/14 by Castro (D-TX) and Lieu (D-CA), and in the Senate 4/15 by Markey (D-MA) and Merkley (D-OR), “To counter Saudi Arabia’s possible pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, and for other purposes.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Press release: Senators Markey and Merkley, Representatives Castro and Lieu Reintroduce Legislation to Stop Saudi Arabia from Acquiring the Building Blocks for Nuclear Weapons; Markey tweet
(WE <HEART> THE HASHEMITE KINGDOM OF JORDAN) H. Res. 305/S. Res. 154: Introduced 4/13 – in the House by Fortenberry (R-NE) and Schiff (D-CA), and in the Senate by Van Hollen (D-MD) and Hagerty (R-TN) – “A resolution congratulating the people of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on the centennial of the founding of the Jordanian state.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, respectively. Van Hollen press release: Van Hollen, Hagerty, Fortenberry, Schiff Introduce Resolution Commemorating Jordan Centennial
(PRESS FOR END TO YEMEN BLOCKADE) Deutch-Wilson-Lieu et al letter to Blinken: On 4/13, Reps. Deutch (D-FL) and Wilson (R-SC) led a letter to SecState Blinken asking him to press the Saudi Arabia-led coalition to lift its blockade of Yemen. The letter notes that “Since 2015, the restrictions imposed by the coalition have critically exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. The interference, delay, and outright blocking of commercial goods and humanitarian assistance shipped to Yemen’s ports is a principal cause of price inflation, food insecurity, economic collapse, and the failure of public services in Yemen. These measures do not interrupt the supply of Iranian and other weapons to the Houthis, especially given the establishment of the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM) in 2016.” The letter was co-signed by other HFAC members Meeks (D-NY), Cicilline (D-RI), Connolly (D-VA), Keating (D-MA), Vargas (D-CA), Schneider (D-IL), Allred (D-TX), Malinowski (D-NJ), and Manning (D-NC). Press releases & Tweets: Deutch/Deutch, Lieu/Lieu. Also see: Biden urged by lawmakers to pressure Saudi Arabia into ending Yemen blockade (Middle East Eye). Note: the letter comes on the heels of another letter on the same topic sent last week led by Dingell (D-MI) and signed by a total of 77 House Democrats (covered in last week’s Round-Up).
(PRESIDENT BIDEN: RE-JOIN THE JCPOA!) Kaine-Murphly letter to Biden: On 4/13, Sens. Kaine (D-VA) and Murphy (D-CT) led a letter to President Biden, cosigned by 25 Senate colleagues (all Democrats), supporting return to the JCPOA. Specifically, the signers “strongly support returning to the JCPOA and using a ‘compliance for compliance’ approach as a starting point to reset U.S. relations with Iran…” and also call 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 should include efforts to engage on key issues of regional concern, including Iran’s missile program and its support for surrogates and proxies, and we encourage you to extend the nuclear limitations in the JCPOA over time 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.” Press releases & Tweets: Kaine (D-VA), Durbin (D-OH)/Durbin, Feinstein (D-CA). Also see: More than two dozen Senate Democrats sign letter backing Iran deal reentry along 2015 terms (Jewish Insider)
(FBI: INVESTIGATE COLIN KAHL!) Hagerty et al letter to FBI Director Wray: On 4/13, Sen. Hagerty (R-TN) led a letter to FBI director Wray, co-signed by 17 Republican Senate colleagues, “to request that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) immediately investigate whether Dr. Colin Kahl, President Joe Biden’s nominee to be Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, after leaving government employment: (1) publicly disclosed classified information and controlled unclassified information; (2) discussed classified information and controlled unclassified information with U.S. government officials; or (3) solicited U.S. government officials to provide, or otherwise received, classified information and controlled unclassified information.” Cruz press release is here/Tweet here. Also see: Exclusive: GOP senators seek FBI investigation into Biden Pentagon nominee (The Hill)
(NEED DETAILS CONCERNING IRAN-CHINA RELATIONSHIP) McCaul letter to Blinken: On 4/12, Rep. McCaul (R-TX) sent a letter to SecState Blinken requesting information on the relationship between Iran and China. The letter notes: “The PRC’s role as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council gives it significant power to block efforts to curb Iran’s malign activities if it chooses. Clearly, if the PRC is benefiting from these activities, it will be less inclined to cooperate with international efforts to mitigate Iran’s threats. U.S. policy toward both regimes must be constructed so that the two cannot work together to our disadvantage.”McCaul press release is here.
April 21: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism will hold a 2-panel hearing entitled, U.S. Policy on Yemen. The sole scheduled witness for Panel 1 is: Timothy Lenderking, U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen, Department of State. Scheduled witnesses for Panel 2 are: Lise Grande, USIP; and Amanda Cantanzano, International Rescue Committee. The SFRC website notes that this hearing will not be webcast (which is really strange, given that all non-closed SFRC hearings have been webcast since long before the onset of the COVID era).
April 21: The House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and Global Counterterrorism will hold a hearing entitled, “The Crisis in Yemen: Part 2.” The sole scheduled witness is: Timothy Lenderking, U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen, Department of State.
April 15: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a business meeting (video) to deal with (among other things) the nomination of Victoria Nuland as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and Uzra Zeya as Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights. Also see: Nuland: Administration should address non-nuclear issues ‘in tandem’ with JCPOA talks (Jewish Insider). In their opening statements Chairman Menendez (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Risch (R-ID) both discussed their views on Iran/JCPOA, and Risch also touched on the ICC.
April 15: The House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and Global Counterterrorism held a hearing entitled, “10 Years of War: Examining the Ongoing Conflict in Syria.” Witnesses were: Lina Khatib, Chatham House (statement); Omar Alshogre, Syrian Emergency Task Force (statement); and Jennifer Cafarella, Institute for the Study of War (statement). Video of the hearing is here. Alshoge also submitted two Syrian Emergency Task Force documents — one entitled, “Policy Recommendations to End the Killing in Syria” and another entitled, “Idlib: Syria’s Last Hope – Policy recommendations for ending mass atrocities in Syria’s last opposition stronghold”.
April 14: The Select Intelligence Committee held a open hearing examining Worldwide Threats. Witnesses were: ODNI Director Avril Haines (statement and 2021 Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community); CIA Director Bill Burns; FBI Director Christopher Wray; NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone; and DIA Director Lt.Gen. Scott Berrier. Video is here. Also see: Iran poses risk of escalating threat to U.S., Israel in 2021, intelligence chiefs warn (Jewish Insider)
April 13: The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing “To receive testimony on United States European Command and United States Transportation Command in review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2022 and the Future Years Defense Program.” One witness, Gen. Tod Wolters (Commander, United States European Command/ North Atlantic Treaty Organization Supreme Allied Commander Europe) included in his statementthe following re: Israel:
“Israel remains a critical U.S. partner facing complex and evolving security challenges. Iran continues to expand its regional influence, to provide lethal support to regional partners including Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian militant groups, and to develop options to threaten and attack Israel. Iran and its partners have made significant gains in asymmetric capabilities, including advanced ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and armed unmanned aerial systems. Tehran remains committed to modernizing its military and continues to improve the range, lethality, and accuracy of its ballistic missile systems. However, Tehran’s malign influence also presents opportunities as regional actors find common ground with Israel in the face of a common adversary. Recent bilateral agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan represent notable progress in normalizing relations and improving the regional security environment. In compliance with the 2020 Unified Command Plan, we continue close coordination within the Department of Defense to ensure an orderly and deliberate transfer of the operations, activities, and investments focused on Israel to USCENTCOM. Ongoing initiatives include a robust series of exercises, senior leader engagements with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), coordination with the IDF to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge over any military threats to Israel, and naval support to defend Israel against growing Iranian ballistic missile threats. This assistance demonstrates the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel, enhances regional stability in the Levant, and deters the Iranian ballistic missile threat. Ultimately, our focus on a seamless transition will support U.S. interests and assist in the defense of Israel.”
Members On The Record…
Re: Wishing Israel Happy Independence Day
Democrats: Pelosi (D-CA – mentioning peace/2SS), Hoyer (D-MD), SFRC/Menendez (D-NJ), Maloney (D-NY), Torres (D-NY), Sherman (D-CA), Trone (D-MD), Rice (D-NY), Frankel (D-FL), Deutch (D-FL – including “Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East, bonded not only by mutual security, but by shared democratic values” and shout-out to normalization), Gottheimer (D-NJ), Torres (D-NY, including “#Israel embodies the resilience & ingenuity of humanity at its best. The story of Israel’s renaissance takes on special meaning in the present moment: Israel reminds us that it is possible to overcome & emerge stronger than ever & build back better.”]
Republicans: Risch (R-ID), Boozman (R-AR), Blackburn (R-TN), Sessions (R-TX), Kustoff (R-TN), Scott (R-FL), Pfluger (R-TX), Rubio (R-FL), Lamborn (R-CO), Senate Republicans, Salazar (R-FL), Cruz (R-TX), Portman (R-OH), Schweikert (R-AZ), Gimenez (R-FL), McClain (R-MI), Mace (R-SC)
Re: Israel & Palestine
Cruz (R-TX) 4/16: Tweet – “The Trump administration was the most pro-Israel administration. The Obama administration before, was the most anti-Israel administration. Now, President Biden is trying to give Barack Obama a run for the money.” Linked to audio of Cruz’s appearance on the Mark Levin show.
Cruz (R-TX) 4/15: Tweet – “Ted Cruz Says Joe Biden Rivals Barack Obama for ‘Most Anti-Israel Administration’ in 50 Years”. Linked to article, Ted Cruz Says Joe Biden Rivals Barack Obama for ‘Most Anti-Israel Administration’ in 50 Years (Newsweek)
Cruz (R-TX) 4/14: Tweet – “Obama’s administration was the most anti-Israel administration of my lifetime. And Joe Biden wants to give Barack Obama a run for the money.” Linked to video of Cruz’s appearance on the Mark Levin show.
Auchincloss (D-MA) 4/14: Twitter thread – “Twenty years at war. Not only have we not succeeded, we can’t even define success. Why? Because “the American people have constantly been lied to,” according to a US Inspector General. How do we rebuild trust after the failed forever wars? Thread. 1 – Cut the Pentagon’s bloated budget and invest instead in diplomacy, humanitarian aid, public health, and climate change. 2 – Repeal & replace the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to strengthen congressional oversight of war-making. 3 – Increase support for Israel and its burgeoning regional alliances as a stabilizing mechanism for the Middle East.” [emphasis added]. Linked to article, Biden to Withdraw All Combat Troops From Afghanistan by Sept. 11 (New York Times)
Deutch (D-FL) 4/12: Tweet – “President Biden has always been clear that our commitment to Israel’s security is unwavering and @SecDef Austin’s visit to Israel reaffirmed that.” Linked to article, Pentagon chief declares ‘ironclad’ U.S. commitment to Israel (Politico)
Rosen (D-NV) 4/11: Tweet – “Thank you, @SecDef, for prioritizing our critical alliance with Israel. I look forward to working alongside the Biden Administration to ensure Israel can maintain its Qualitative Military Edge.” Linked to SecDef Austin tweet, “I just arrived in Israel where I’m looking forward to a series of robust discussions with our Israeli friends on regional security issues. I’m grateful to call Israel a major strategic partner.”
Hagerty (R-TN) 4/9: Tweet – “Tennessee taxpayers should not be funding the Palestinian Authority. In a letter to @SecBlinkin, @SenTedCruz and I are calling on the Biden Admin. to stop aiding the Palestinians until it can be verified the aid is not funding terrorist activities.” Linked to article, Republican Senators Oppose Palestinian Aid in Letter to Blinken (Bloomberg) [see last week’s Round-Up for details of that letter)
Lee (D-CA) 4/9: Tweet – “Aid to the Palestinian people saves lives, fosters stability, and shows America can be a trusted partner. The funds notified by the Biden Administration were enacted on a bipartisan basis—and signed into law by President Trump. #ReleaseTheAid”
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
Calvert (R-CA) 4/14: Rep. Calvert: U.S. Troop Withdraw in Afghanistan is Short-Sighted [on Twitter, quoting ODNI – “Iran will hedge its bets in Afghanistan, and its actions may threaten instability. Iran publicly backs Afghan peace talks, but it is worried about a long-term US presence in Afghanistan.”
Hagerty (R-TN) 4/14: Tweet – “34 Senators—enough to block the Iran deal if President Biden submitted it as a treaty under Constitution—now support my legislation to block Iran sanctions relief just as the Administration has signaled they are willing to lift sanctions to rejoin the flawed deal.”
Ernst (R-IA) 4/14: Tweet – “Iran is continuing to ramp up the production of weapons-grade nuclear material—putting the state-sponsor of terrorism one step closer to a nuclear weapon. The Biden Admin must heed Iran’s threat. This is clearly no time to get back in the failed JCPOA.” Linked to article, Iran plans major jump in uranium enrichment after Natanz nuclear site attack (Washington Post)
Barr (R-KY) 4/13: Tweet – “Last week, speaking at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the Biden Administration’s efforts to revive the disastrous 2015 Iran nuclear deal:” Linked to article, Netanyahu: We won’t be bound by ‘Iran deal that threatens us with annihilation’ (Times of Israel)
Scott (R-FL) 4/13: Tweet – “This is completely unacceptable and exactly why we can never reenter the failed Iran Nuclear Deal. @POTUS must work with our allies to address this and protect our great ally, Israel.” Linked to article, Iran says it will enrich uranium to 60%, highest level ever (AP)
Walorski (R-IN) 4/13: Tweet – “The Iran nuclear deal did nothing to stop the regime’s hostile behavior or end its nuclear program. President Biden’s plan to restart the flawed agreement and provide sanctions relief is dangerous, and any new deal will have to get through Congress first.” Linked to article, GOP Puts Biden Admin on Notice: Congress Not Bound By New Iran Deal(Free Beacon)
Tenney (R-NY) 4/13: Tweet – “Max Pressure works. #Iran’s global currency reserves have fallen by 97%. That’s a huge win, denying the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism money to fuel conflict. The United States needs to stay the course and maintain pressure until Iran agrees to a comprehensive deal.” Linked to Jay Solomon tweet – “Latest @IMF report on the Middle East and Central Asia estimates #Iran’s accessible foreign exchange reserves plunged to $4 billion in 2020 from $123 billion in 2018. That’s a stunning collapse in the country’s wealth. #IranDeal”
Lowenthal (D-CA) 4/13: Tweet – “A return to the JCPOA is critical. Only a durable diplomatic agreement can prevent a nuclear Iran and prevent catastrophic conflict.”
Murphy (D-CT) 4/12: Tweet – “FYI there were no negotiations. And just a reminder, here’s what “maximum pressure” got us: -Iran restarted dormant nuclear research -Iran proxies started attacking our troops again -our allies abandoned us and tried to help Iran work around our sanctions. 100% disaster.” Linked to 4/12 tweet by former SecState Pompeo, “The Iranians love appeasement, and they will drive a truck through weakness. That’s why our Administration led with strength, not weakness when it came to negotiations with them.”
Van Hollen (D-MD) 4/12: Tweet (responding to Murphy tweet, above) – “Not to mention Trump’s ‘leadership’ also resulted in Iran: -Increasing its stockpile of enriched uranium 12x -Ratcheting up R&D on advanced centrifuges and restarting enrichment at Fordow -Slashing its nuclear breakout time from one year under the JCPOA to a matter of months”
Cornyn (R-TX) 4/11: Tweet – “No, the Biden Administration just gave up: ‘Maximum Pressure’ on Iran Has Failed” Linked to article ‘Maximum Pressure’ on Iran Has Failed (New York Times) [winning prize for most poorly drafted tweet of the week]
Malliotakis (R-NY) 4/11: Op-ed in the Jewish Press, President Biden: Don’t Rejoin The Iran Deal (tweet). Reminder – Editor of Orthodox NY weekly Jewish Press identified as January 6 Capitol rioter (Times of Israel, 4/8/21)
Murphy (D-CT) 4/9: 8-part Twitter thread opening with – “I want a ‘longer and stronger’ agreement with Iran, but the path to that agreement is through the Iran nuclear deal (the JCPOA). 1/ A short THREAD on why getting back into the JCPOA, as soon as possible, is the necessary predicate to gain other concessions from Iran.”
Young (R-IN) 4/9: Tweet – “I’m deeply troubled by recent news reports that the U.S. may remove sanctions on Iran and return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. This week, I joined a letter opposing any attempt to return to a deal that offers one-sided concessions to Iran.” [see last week’s Round-Up for details of this letter]
Steil (R-WI) 4/9: Tweet – “Why did Iran release the South Korean tanker days after Iran & the United States began nuke deal talks? Is this a coincidence or was the U.S. involved in the deal between South Korea & Iran? I haven’t received an answer from Secretary Blinken.” [see past Round-Ups for details of Steil letter to Blinken]
Re: Saudi Arabia & Yemen
Tlaib (D-MI) 4/14: Tweets – “As long as the #Yemen blockade continues, all @POTUS’ words on the issue are just that—words. Meanwhile, a child dies every 75 seconds nothing is done & champions like Michigan’s own Iman Saleh are fasting in solidarity with the countless starving. #EndtheBlockade #YemenCantWait” and “It was an honor to stand alongside her and other @LiberateYemen advocates at the #EndtheBlockade rally in front of the White House yesterday. Change happens in the streets because of courageous people like those who stood in honor of the lives lost and lives under threat.”
Maloney (D-NY) 4/11: Tweet – “I was proud to sign this letter calling for a swift end to the Saudi blockade of Yemen. Millions of lives are on the line.” Linked to Pocan (D-WI) tweet about letter covered in last week’s Round-Up)
Wild (D-PA) 4/9: Tweet – “The Saudi regime’s fuel blockade is causing mass hunger, disease, and suffering for innocent children, women, and men in #Yemen. I joined 70+ of my colleagues in calling on the President to make clear that this horrific campaign must end NOW.” Linked to article Congressional Democrats call on Biden administration to demand Saudi Arabia lift blockade on Yemen (CNN)
Cohen (D-TN) 4/9: Tweet – “Yemen is being starved by the Saudi government’s inhumane blockade. I am calling on @POTUS to pressure the Saudis to stop this deadly humanitarian crisis.” Linked to letter covered in last week’s Round-Up.
Rush (D-IL) 4/9: Tweet – “Saudi Arabia’s blockade of Yemen has caused the worst humanitarian crisis in the world — every 75 seconds, another Yemini child dies of starvation. I joined @RepMarkPocan, @RepDebDingell, & @RepRoKhanna in urging @POTUS to pressure the Saudi government to end this cruel blockade.” Linked to letter covered in last week’s Round-Up.
Articles and Reports Related to the Hill
Huffington Post 4/15: Top Republican To AIPAC: Trump Wanted To ‘Marginalize’ Palestinians[“In his final months in office, former President Donald Trump unveiled deals for four Arab countries to recognize Israel, saying it was a key step to resolve the decades-old Middle East standoff over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Trump administration repeatedly rejected criticism from foreign officials and national security experts that his approach made Israeli-Palestinian peace less likely by angering and isolating the Palestinians while boosting the Israelis. But according to previously unreported remarks by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chief Republican working on foreign policy in the House of Representatives, sidelining the Palestinians was Trump’s aim all along. ‘I think the goal here is to marginalize the Palestinians,’ McCaul told donors and supporters of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in a closed-door meeting last month, referring to Trump’s negotiations with Muslim-majority countries.”]
Jewish Insider 4/15: Andrew Garbarino, Long Island’s heir to Pete King [“The first-term Republican said the Israelis and the Palestinians would have to work out their conflict among themselves if they have any hope of easing tensions. ‘Listen, I’m an attorney by trade,’ Garbarino said. ‘Anytime an outside group tries to force a settlement on somebody, it doesn’t work.’ ‘The U.S. shouldn’t be forcing terms,’ he added. ‘No country should be forcing terms. Israel and the Palestinians need to figure it out because, unless they both come to terms, it’s not going to work. You can’t force it, can’t force a settlement on one or the other. If somebody feels like they’ve gotten screwed, if they’ve been bullied into something, they’re going to be very, very upset, and it’s not going to work. It’ll fall apart. The deal always falls apart.’”]
Times of Israel 4/15: Despite Biden OK, ‘concerned’ Democrat says US Congress to review UAE arms deal
Times of Israel 4/14: Senate confirms Iran deal negotiator Wendy Sherman as deputy secretary of state
Jerusalem Post 4/14: Majority of US Senate backs Biden nominee for No. 2 State Dept post
Jewish News Syndicate (NGO Monitor) 4/14: Improved vetting is key to US reengagement with Palestinian NGOs
+972 Magazine (by Mitch Plitnick) 4/13: How hawkish Democrats are impeding Biden’s Middle East policy
Just Security 4/13: Congress Must Reform Sanctions Law to Avoid ICC Penalties from Happening Again
Foreign Lobby 4/12: leaked email sheds light on lobbying against UN Palestinian refugee agency (subscriber only)
Israel Hayom 4/11: Biden’s pick for undersecretary of defense should worry Israel
JTA/Times of Israel 4/10: Biden’s new slate of aid to Palestinians comes under intense scrutiny
Jerusalem Post 4/10: State Department announces intent to break law – comment
NY Post 4/10: AOC, Jamaal Bowman meet with Jewish leaders for talks on Israel
Electronic Intifada 4/9: AOC panders to Israel lobby
Jewish News Syndicate 4/8: Pro-Israel groups press Congress to help end ‘hateful content’ in UNRWA schools