Legislative Round-Up: October 25, 2021

1. Bills, Resolutions, Letters
2. Senate FY22 Approps — Defense Approps & SFOPS
3. The Great 2021 Iron Dome Supplemental Debacle (cont.)
4. Hearings & Markups
5. On the Record

*Brought to you in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Round-Up was born!

More great FMEP programming:

  • 10/22 – New episode of FMEP’s Occupied Thoughts podcast: Israel Declares War on Palestinian Human Rights Defenders, ft. Ines Abdel Razek (PIPD) & Sarit Michaeli (Btselem), in conversation with FMEP’s Lara Friedman.
  • 10/18 – New episode of FMEP’s Occupied Thoughts podcast: The Occupation & the Biden Administration, ft. Danny Seideman (founder/director, Terrestrial Jerusalem) & Yehuda Shaul (founder, Breaking the Silence), in conversation with MEI’s Khaled Elgindy and FMEP’s Lara Friedman.

1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters

(SENATE FY22 DEFENSE APPROPS) S. 3023: On 10/18, the Senate Appropriations Committee released its version of the FY22 Defense Appropriations bill (text);, along with the Committee’s Explanatory Report accompanying the bill (text), and a brief bill summary (text). For full analysis of the Middle East-related elements of the bill/report, see Section 2, below. NOTE: This bill includes the $1 billion for supplemental Iron Dome funding.

(SENATE FY22 SFOPS) S. XXX: On 10/18, the Senate Appropriations Committee released its version of the FY22 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill (text), along with the Committee’s Report accompanying the bill (text), and a brief bill summary (text). For full analysis of the Middle East-related elements of the bill/report, see Section 2, below.

(SENATE FY22 Defense Authorization) HR 4350: The FY22 Defense Authorization bill is set to come to the Senate floor soon – where as always, it will be the target of many, many, many amendments (including an amendment in the nature of a substitute). And as ever, there will undoubtedly be lots of Middle East/Israel-related amendments. Introduction of amendments started this week, but will be covered in the Round-Up when the bill comes to the floor.

(HUMAN RIGHTS vs ARMS SALES) HR 5629: Introduced 10/18 by Meeks (D-NY), “To enhance the consideration of human rights in arms exports.” Referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Rules Committee. [It is of course improbable in the extreme that Congress would ever permit legislation like this to apply to Israel].

(PROTECTING CAMPUS FREE SPEECH) S. Res. 425: Introduced 10/20 by Blackburn (R-TN) and 10 Republican cosponsors, “A resolution recognizing the importance of protecting freedom of speech, thought, and expression at institutions of higher education.”  This resolution is clearly geared to defend against alleged attacks against the free speech of right-wing voices on campus. What is notable (and why this is included in the Round-Up) is that the resolution is framed in a powerful, generic defense of campus free speech — notwithstanding the fact that many (of not all) of its backers support quashing free speech critical of Israel/Zionism, including on campus. Also see Cruz (R-TX) press release.

Letters

(LIFTING SANCTIONS ON IRAN?) Steil et al letter to Yellen & Blinken: On 10/21, Rep. Steil (R-WI) led a letter to Treasury Secretary Yellen and Secretary of State Blinken, cosigned by 29 Republican colleagues, asking (per the press release for answers on the Administration’s recent decision to lift sanctions on Iranian ballistic missile producers.  The letter comes in response to the Treasury Department recently removing six entries from the U.S. Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) list with ties to a group responsible for Iran’s liquid-ballistic missiles.

 

2.Senate FY22 Approps — Defense Approps & SFOPS

On October 18, the Senate Appropriations Committee released its versions of a number of FY22 appropriations bills, including the Defense Appropriations bill and the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill.

  • The Committee’s press release is here.
  • With respect to the FY22 Defense Approps, the bill text is here; the Committee’s Report/explanatory statement is here; and a summary/highlights document is here.
  • With respect to the FY22 SFOPS bill,; bill text is here; the Committee’s Report/explanatory statement is here; and a summary/highlights document is here.
  • Full Middle East-related details of both bill are laid out below.

Notably, the Senate Appropriations Committee added the $1 billion in supplemental Iron Dome funding (currently being blocked in the Senate by Paul, R-KY) to the Defense Appropriations bill (on top of the $500 million in regular funding for Israel in that bill). This means that between these two bills introduced this week, the U.S. will be providing a whopping $4.805 BILLION in funding to Israel (in addition to the interest that Israel earns on FMF that by law must be handed over immediately upon SFOPS becoming law).

Also worth noting — the SFOPS bill includes a provision that would enable the Biden Administration to waive (with conditions) the U.S. laws that bar the U.S. from funding UNESCO, based on UNESCO admission of the Palestinians.

All that being said, given the timing on the congressional calendar, it seems likely that these bills will not undergo the normal consideration/approval process (with a full markup in committee followed by a floor vote preceded by a long amendment process). Much more likely is that the path forward will be an omnibus, preceded by conference negotiations with the House. At the same time, politically, a long-term CR seems a better bet still, given the ongoing battles over the debt ceiling, Build Back Better, etc.. (meaning neither bill would pass, and the $1 billion for supplement Iron Dome funding would remain blocked).

Middle East-related details of the Senate’s FY22 Defense Appropriations bill/Report

Israel

Sec. 8073: Appropriates $500 million for Israel, for Israeli Cooperative Programs, of which:

  • $108 million for Iron Dome procurement of the Iron Dome
  • $157 million for the Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense (SRBMD) program (of which $30 million shall be for co-production activities of SRBMD systems in the United States and in Israel;
  • $62 million for an upper-tier component to the Israeli Missile Defense Architecture, of which $62,000,000 shall be for coproduction activities of Arrow 3 Upper Tier systems in the United States and in Israel;
  • $173 million for the Arrow System Improvement Program including development of a long range, ground and airborne, detection suite.

Sec. 8112: Appropriates an additional $1 billion for Israel, to remain available until September 30, 2024, “for the procurement of the Iron Dome defense system.

Sec. 8116.  Provides $370 million “to reimburse Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and Oman under section 1226 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (22 U.S.C. 2151 note), for enhanced border security…

OTHER: The bill also includes extensive funding and stipulations with respect to Syria and ISIS.

 

Middle East-related details of the Senate’s FY22 SFOPS bill

TITLE I – DEPARTMENT OF STATE AND RELATED AGENCY

INTERNATIONAL BROADCASTING OPERATIONS – The bill makes available $870,696,000 “For necessary expenses to enable the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM)…to carry out international communication activities, and to make and supervise grants for radio, Internet, and television broadcasting to the Middle East…” [subject to perennial conditions]

CENTER FOR MIDDLE EASTERN-WESTERN DIALOGUE TRUST FUND – Perennial provision stating, “For necessary expenses of the Center for Middle Eastern-Western Dialogue Trust Fund, as authorized by section 633 of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2004 (22 U.S.C. 2078), the total amount of the interest and earnings accruing to such Fund on or before September 30, 20221, to remain available until expended.

ISRAELI ARAB SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM – Perennial provision stating, “For necessary expenses of the Israeli Arab Scholarship Program, as authorized by section 214 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993 (22 U.S.C. 2452 note), all interest and earnings accruing to the Israeli Arab Scholarship Fund on or before September 30, 2022, to remain available until expended.

TITLE III – BILATERAL ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE

COMPLEX CRISES FUND – The bill provides $60 million “For necessary expenses to carry out the provisions of section 509(b) of the Global Fragility Act of 2019…to remain available until expended” The text stipulates that such funds may be made available “notwithstanding any other provision of law, except sections 7007, 7008, and 7018 of this Act and section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.” [As a reminder, Section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 states that “No assistance shall be furnished under this Act or the Arms Export Control Act to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.]

DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE (DA) – A table in the Explanatory Statement accompanying the report breaks down DA to the Middle East as follows: Lebanon Refugee Scholarship Program — $9 million; Tunisia — $45 million; Western Sahara — $5 million

ECONOMIC SUPPORT FUND (ESF) – The bill provides $ 3,480,131,000, in ESF, to remain available until September 30, 2023. A table in the Explanatory Statement accompanying the report breaks down ESF to the Middle East as follows:

  • Iraq – $150 million (of which $2.5 million is for justice sector assistance
  • Lebanese scholarships – $12 million
  • Middle East Partnership Initiative – $27.2 million
  • Middle East Regional Cooperation – $5 million
  • Morocco – $15 million
  • Near East Regional Democracy – $55 million
  • Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act  – $50 million

The Explanatory statement notes:

  • The Committee recommends $55,000,000 for Near East Regional Democracy programs under this heading, of which $15,000,000 shall be made available for DRL. The Secretary of State shall consult with the Committees on Appropriations on the uses of funds prior to obligation.
  • U.S. Middle East Partnership Initiative.—The Committee recommends $27,200,000 for MEPI, including for scholarships for students in countries with significant Muslim populations at not-for-profit institutions of higher education in a manner consistent with prior fiscal years, and funds shall be awarded on an open and competitive basis.

MIGRATION AND REFUGEE ASSISTANCE (MRA) – The bill earmarks $3,845,000,000 for this category. NOTE: The perennial earmark in this section for Israel has been moved into Sec. 7041.

TITLE IV – INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE

INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS CONTROL AND LAW ENFORCEMENT (INCLE) – The bill earmarks a total of $1,388,853,000 for INCLE. A table in the Explanatory Statement lays out funding for INCLE in the Near East as follows: Iraq  – $2.8 million (of which $2.5 million is for justice sector assistance); Lebanon – $10 million; and West Bank and Gaza  – $40 million

NONPROLIFERATION, ANTI-TERRORISM, DEMINING AND RELATED PROGRAMS (NADR) – The bill earmarks $ 907,247,000 for NADR. The text includes the perennial stipulation that making US funding to the IAEA contingent on that agency not denying Israel “its rights to participate in the activities of that Agency.” The Explanatory Statement doesn’t indicate any of this is recommended specifically for any Middle East country.

PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS (PKO) – The bill earmarks $ 465,459,000,for PKO, of which not less than $24 million is earmarked for the Multinational Force and Observers mission in the Sinai. The Explanatory Statement notes: “The Committee continues to support U.S. leadership and participation in the Multinational Force and Observers mission in the Sinai, which is important to the national security interests of the United States, Israel, Egypt, and other regional allies, and to counter the influence of the PRC, Russia, and other adversaries in the Middle East and North Africa.

INTERNATIONAL MILITARY EDUCATION AND TRAINING (IMET) – The bill earmarks $ 112,925,000,for IMET. A table in the Explanatory Statement lays out funding for IMET in the Near East as follows: Iraq  – $1 million; and Lebanon  – $3.5 million. The Explanatory note also states: “The Committee notes that no funds were requested by the President under this heading for assistance for the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, and none are provided in the act.

FOREIGN MILITARY FINANCING PROGRAM (FMF) – The bill earmarks $ 6,175,524,000 for FMF. NOTE: The perennial earmark in this section for Israel has been moved into Sec. 7041. A table in the Explanatory Statement lays out funding for FMF (that is not explicitly earmarked in the bill) intended for the the Near East as follows: Iraq – $250 million and Lebanon – $160 million.

TITLE VII – GENERAL PROVISIONS

Sec. 7007 – PROHIBITION AGAINST DIRECT FUNDING FOR CERTAIN COUNTRIES. Perennial bill text barring funds from Titles III-VI of the bill (defined to include support from the Export-Import Bank) to Cuba, North Korea, Iran, or Syria.

Sec. 7008 – COUPS D’ETAT. Perennial bill text barring funds from Titles III-VI of the bill “to finance directly any assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d’etat or decree or, after the date of enactment of this Act, a coup d’etat or decree in which the military plays a decisive role.” The provision permits funding to be re-started if a democratically elected government has taken office. The ban also does not apply “to assistance to promote democratic elections or public participation in democratic processes.

Sec. 7009 – TRANSFER OF FUNDS AUTHORITY. This section limits the amounts that may be transferred between accounts and imposes conditions on such transfers. Part (c)(1) of this section also states: “That funds appropriated by this Act or prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs to implement the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act shall be excluded from the limitation contained in this paragraph.”

Sec. 7013 – PROHIBITION ON TAXATION OF UNITED STATES ASSISTANCE. Perennial bill provision barring taxation of U.S. assistance. While this provision appears generic, the only program explicitly identified is the West Bank and Gaza program.

Sec. 7015 – NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS. Part (f) of this provision states that no funds appropriated under titles III through VI of this Act (pretty much all funds in the bill) may be obligated or expended for assistance to a laundry list of countries, “except as provided through regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.” From the Middle East, the list includes (this year): Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia (new this year!), and Yemen.

Sec. 7021 – PROHIBITION ON ASSISTANCE TO GOVERNMENTS SUPPORTING INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM. Perennial bill provision prohibiting funding to any country which provides lethal military equipment to a country the government of which the Secretary of State has determined supports international terrorism…” and prohibits bilateral assistance to any country that supports international terrorism, gives sanctuary to terrorist, or is controlled by a terrorist organization. The section includes national security waivers for both restrictions.

Sec. 7031 – FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET TRANSPARENCY. Part (c) of this section is a perennial provision (slightly expanded this year), under the title, “Anti-Kleptocracy and Human Rights” that bars entry to the U.S. of foreign officials and their immediate family members for whom the Secretary of State has credible information indicating that they “are responsible for or knowingly complicit in, directly or indirectly, significant acts of corruption, including corruption related to the extraction of natural resources, or a serious violation of human rights, including the unjust or wrongful detention of members of political parties, journalists, civil society leaders, locally employed staff of a United States diplomatic mission, or a United States citizen or national.” It also says the Secretary of State “should” concurrently work to apply relevant sanctions to the people in question, and requires the Secretary of State to “publicly or privately designate or identify the officials of foreign governments and their immediate family members” covered by this section, regardless of whether they have applied for visas. The provision includes an exception and a waiver, and also stipulates required reporting.

Sec. 7032 – DEMOCRACY PROGRAMS. Part (g) of this provision earmarks not less than $55,000,000 “to support and protect civil society activists and journalists who have been threatened, harassed, or attacked” [Note: last year’s Senate text also included “human rights defenders” alongside civil society activists and journalists].  The Explanatory Statement accompanying the bill notes that, “the Committee recommends not less than $102,040,000 for democracy programs under the ESF and AEECA headings to be administered by DRL. These funds are in addition to funds made available for such purposes under the DF heading.” The accompanying table earmarks funding in the category for the Middle East as follows: Near East Regional Democracy – $15 million; Syria – $11 million; and Yemen – $3 million.

Sec. 7033 – INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. Part (c) states that ESF funds appropriated by this Act and prior Acts for SFOPS “may be made available notwithstanding any other provision of law for assistance for ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq, Sri Lanka, and Syria.

Sec. 7034 – SPECIAL PROVISIONS. Part (n)(1) provides funding for costs of loan guarantees for Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, and Ukraine.

Sec. 7035 – LAW ENFORCEMENT AND SECURITY.

  • Part (a)(2) provides NADR funding “for the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund for programs in areas liberated from, under the influence of, or adversely affected by, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or other terrorist organizations: Provided, That such areas shall include the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.”
  • Part (b)(4) of this section of the bill is a perennial provision providing for financing of commercial leasing of defense articles to Israel, Egypt, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and major non-NATO allies.
  • Part (c)(2) lays out limitations related to landmines and cluster munitions.
  • Part (c)(4) states that “Funds appropriated by this Act should not be used for tear gas, small arms, light weapons, ammunition, or other items for crowd control purposes for a unit of a foreign security force if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit uses excessive force to repress peaceful expression or assembly concerning corruption, harm to the environment, or the fairness of electoral processes, or in countries that, association, or assembly in countries that the Secretary of State determines are undemocratic or are undergoing democratic transitions.” NOTE: In the Senate’s FY21 text, this provision applied to “foreign security forces” rather than specific units of a given foreign security force — a change that makes this provision far harder (if not impossible) to implement in any meaningful way, given that the US has little if any ability to meaningfully monitor, let alone dictate, a foreign military’s internal decisions regarding the supply of materials within and among its units. Moreover, this raises serious questions about the U.S. knowingly providing support and equipment to foreign military forces that they know engage in violent repression of civilians, so long as the U.S. can assure itself that it is other countries’ equipment that is being used in that repression.

Sec. 7036 – ARAB LEAGUE BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL [Should be re-titled “Normalization”]. This WAS  perennial bill text, in the form of a Sense of Congress opposing the Arab League boycott of Israel, and the secondary boycott of American firms that have commercial ties with Israel. In this new SFOPS text it has been re-purposed into a Sense of Congress supporting normalization, including: “All Arab League states should join Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan in establishing and normalizing relations with Israel” and “the President should support broadening and participation in the Abraham Accords, and report annually to the appropriate congressional committees on the United States Government’s strategy and steps being taken by the United States to encourage additional Arab League and other Muslim-majority states to normalize relations with Israel.

Sec. 7037 – PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD. Perennial bill provision barring (with extensive language) assistance to a Palestinian state [if one were ever to come into being] that does not meet a series of conditions (includes perennial Presidential waiver authority).

Sec. 7038 – PROHIBITION ON ASSISTANCE TO THE PALESTINIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION. Perennial language (dating back years) barring any U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation.

Sec. 7039 – ASSISTANCE FOR THE WEST BANK AND GAZA. Perennial section laying out far-reaching restrictions and conditions, as well as vetting, oversight and audit requirements, for U.S. assistance programs (carried out through non-governmental organizations) in the West Bank and Gaza. This includes barring funds for the purpose of recognizing or honoring individuals who commit or have committed acts of terrorism. It also includes required reporting with respect to security assistance.

Sec. 7040 – LIMITATION ON ASSISTANCE FOR THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY. Perennial bill language that in Part (a) bans U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority, and in Part (b) grants the President authority to waive that ban if doing so is “important to the national security interest of the United States.” In addition, to use this waiver the President must certify to Congress (among other things) that the PA “is supporting activities aimed at promoting peace, coexistence, and security cooperation with Israel.” NOTE: This is about $$ provided directly to the PA, as opposed to aid not directly for the PA but that “benefits” the PA (which is what the Taylor Force Act also targets).

The section also includes a perennial subsection (f) entitled “Prohibition to Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization” (lumping together a US-designated FTO with the recognized representative of the Palestinian people that is NOT and has never been a US-designated FTO). This subsection bars funding to the PLO and for salaries of PA personnel in Gaza or for Hamas or any entity “effectively controlled by Hamas, any power-sharing government of which Hamas is a member, or that results from an agreement with Hamas and over which Hamas exercises undue influence.” [Note: This formulation is designed to make it difficult for the U.S. engage any kind of Palestinian power-sharing government that results from a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, or a national unity government or a mutually-agreed technocratic government; indeed, the text of the subsection evolved in recent years in response to Palestinian efforts to achieve such governments].

It also includes language of past bills stipulating that the prohibition does not apply if the President certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that such government, including all of its ministers or such equivalent, has publicly accepted and is complying with the principles contained in section 620K(b)(1) (A) and (B) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended. It also includes the proviso that, “the President may exercise the authority in section 620K(e) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as added by the Palestine Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-446) with respect to this subsection.” It also stipulates that: None of the funds appropriated under titles III through VI of this Act may be obligated for assistance for the Palestine Liberation Organization.

As a reminder: Section 620K(b)(1)(A) and (B) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, reads as follows:

(b) Certification.–A certification described in subsection (a) is a certification transmitted by the President to Congress that contains a determination of the President that–

(1) no ministry, agency, or instrumentality of the Palestinian Authority is effectively controlled by Hamas, unless the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority has–

(A) publicly acknowledged the Jewish state of Israel’s right to exist; and

(B) committed itself and is adhering to all previous agreements and understandings with the United States Government, with the Government of Israel, and with the international community, including agreements and understandings pursuant to the Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (commonly referred to as the `Roadmap’).

And 620K(e) reads as follows: 

(e) National Security Waiver.–

(1) In general.–Subject to paragraph (2), the President may waive subsection (a) with respect to-

(A) the administrative and personal security costs of the Office of the President of the Palestinian Authority;

(B) the activities of the President of the Palestinian Authority to fulfill his or her duties as President, including to maintain control of the management and security of border crossings, to foster the Middle East peace process, and to promote democracy and the rule of law; and

(C) assistance for the judiciary branch of the Palestinian Authority and other entities.

(2) Certification.–The President may only exercise the waiver authority under paragraph (1) after–

(A) consulting with, and submitting a written policy justification to, the appropriate congressional committees; and

(B) certifying to the appropriate congressional committees that–

(i) it is in the national security interest of the United States to provide assistance otherwise prohibited under subsection (a); and

(ii) the individual or entity for which assistance is proposed to be provided is not a member of, or effectively controlled by (as the case may be), Hamas or any other foreign terrorist organization.

(3) Report.—Not later than 10 days after exercising the waiver authority under paragraph (1), the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report describing how the funds provided pursuant to such waiver will be spent and detailing the accounting procedures that are in place to ensure proper oversight and accountability.

(4) Treatment of certification as notification of program change.–For purposes of this subsection, the certification required under paragraph (2)(B) shall be deemed to be a notification under section 634A and shall be considered in accordance with the procedures applicable to notifications submitted pursuant to that section.

________________________

Sec. 7041. MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

BAHRAIN: While Bahrain is not mentioned in the bill text, the Explanatory Statement accompanying the bill notes that the Committee “appreciates the assistance of the Government of Bahrain in the evacuation of U.S. citizens and at-risk individuals from Afghanistan in August 2021.” It also states that the Committee “remains concerned with reports of the widespread use of arbitrary detention, torture, violations of due process, and unfair trials in Bahrain, and notes that the suppression of peaceful dissent and free expression may negatively impact stability in that country.” It requires the Secretary of State, not later than 60 days after enactment of the act, to submit a report (which may be in classified form if necessary) “detailing efforts made on behalf of political prisoners in Bahrain and the Government of Bahrain’s response.”

(a) EGYPT.

Overall conditions on aid: This section of the bill stipulates that funds for Egypt are subject to limitations articulated in this section, as well as to section Sections 502B [Human Rights] and 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 [Limitation on Assistance to Security Forces]. It states, in addition, that aid may be made available to Egypt only if the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that the Egyptian government is “(A) sustaining the strategic relationship with the United States; and (B) meeting its obligations under the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.”

ESF: The bill earmarks for Egypt not less than to $125 million in ESF, of which $40 million “should be made available for higher education programs, including not less than $15 million for scholarships… Provided that such funds shall be made available for democracy programs, and for development programs in the Sinai and may not be available for cash transfer assistance or budget support. [In the FY21 text, that final proviso did not apply if the Secretary certified to Congress that the Government of Egypt was taking steps to stabilize and reform the economy]. In addition, a new, separate part of this section of the bill, part 7041 (m), stipulates that prior to the obligation of any ESF for Egypt, the State Department must report to Congress on the extent to which the Government of Egypt is making consistent progress in increasing equitable economic growth and opportunity, improving governance, and reducing corruption, including by implementing a list of specified economic & governance reforms.

FMF – withholding (& waiver): The bill earmarks $1.3 billion in FMF for Egypt (and stipulates that these funds may be transferred to the interest-bearing account – a benefit granted to Egypt years ago by Congress to try to create some symmetry with Israel’s early disbursal provision). The bill stipulates that $225 million of such funds “shall be withheld from obligation until the Secretary of State certifies and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of Egypt is taking sustained and effective steps to achieve progress on a laundry list of issues (rule of law, democracy, human rights, reforms, freedoms, release of political prisoners, holding security forces accountable, investigate extrajudicial killings/disappearances, provide US access to monitor assistance). This section also includes authority for the Secretary of State to waive this withholding – “in whole or in part” upon certifying that “to do so is important to the national security interest of the United States” and reporting why this is the case to Congress.

FMF – withholding (no waiver): In addition, this section stipulates that $75 million in Egypt’s FMF shall be withheld “until the Secretary of State determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that the Government of Egypt is making consistent progress in ending arbitrary detention and the mistreatment of prisoners, and releasing political prisoners, and is not engaging in a pattern of intimidation or harassment as referenced in 22 U.S.C. 2756”. The section also states: “the Secretary of State shall take the necessary steps to ensure that the Government of Egypt provides for timely and fair compensation for injuries and losses suffered by American citizens as a result of actions by the Egyptian military.”

The Explanatory Statement includes extensive language regarding Egypt:

  •  April Corley. “The Committee notes that it has been more than 6 years since American citizen April Corley was severely injured and permanently disabled as a result of an attack on September 13, 2015, against her tour group by the Egyptian military using U.S.-manufactured helicopters, rockets, and ammunition. Consistent with section 7041(a)(4) of division G of Public Law 116–94, not later than 45 days after enactment of the act, and every 45 days thereafter until September 30, 2022, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations describing actions taken by the Government of Egypt to fairly compensate April Corley for her injuries and losses.”
  • Certification. “In making the certification required by subsection (a)(3)(A), the Secretary of State shall consider the cases of Ola Al-Qaradawi, Hosam Khalaf, Salah Soltan, Abdulrahman Tarek, and Mohamed El-Baqer. The Committee urges that humane treatment and fair trials be afforded these and other prisoners in Egypt.”
  • Counterterrorism Campaign in the Sinai: Not later than 60 days after enactment of the act, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, shall update the report required under this heading in Senate Report 116–126 on Egypt’s compliance with end-user monitoring agreements for the use of U.S. military equipment in the Sinai, including any use of such equipment for the purpose of damaging or destroying civilian infrastructure, and the Department’s response to such use. The report shall also indicate the access requested by, and granted to, U.S. Government personnel to conflicted areas in the Sinai for purposes of monitoring the use of U.S.equipment.”
  • Higher Education and Scholarships. “The Committee recommends not less than $15,000,000 for Egyptian students with high financial need to attend not-for-profit institutions of higher education in Egypt that meet certain standards comparable to those required for U.S. institutional accreditation. Students should be eligible for scholarships based on need, outstanding academic record, and leadership potential to contribute to the long-term political, economic, and social development of Egypt…
  • Interference. “For purposes of subsection (a)(3)(A)(ii), the term ‘‘interference’’ shall include harassment, threats, violence, and other acts of intimidation.
  • Report. “Not later than 60 days after enactment of the act, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations on incidents of harassment, threats, and arbitrary detention against American citizens and their family members who are not American citizens in Egypt and the United States. Such report shall include: (1) a description of such incidents in the past 3 years; (2) an assessment of whether such incidents constitute a ‘‘pattern of acts of intimidation or harassment’’ for purposes of a Presidential determination in accordance with section 6 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2756); and (3) a statement of the Secretary of State’s intent with regard to cancelling or suspending any letters of offer, credits, guarantees, or export licenses provided to the Government of Egypt in accordance with the provisions of section 6 of such Act.”

(b) IRAN.

This section of the bill states that funding in the bill (under Diplomatic Programs, ESF, and NADR) “shall be made available to support: “(A) the United States policy to prevent Iran from achieving the capability to produce or otherwise obtain a nuclear weapon; (B) an expeditious response to any violation of UN Security Council Resolutions or to efforts that advance Iran’s nuclear program; (C) the implementation and enforcement of sanctions against Iran for its support of nuclear weapons development, terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missile and weapons proliferation; and (D) democracy programs for Iran, to be administered by the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.” The section also continues an existing requirement for a semi-annual report required under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, and a report, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, on Iran sanctions.

The Explanatory Statement notes:

  • Counterinfluence Programs. The Secretary of State, in con-sultation with the heads of other relevant Federal agencies, shall coordinate Iran counterinfluence programs funded by the act. Such programs should: (1) counter the false assertions made by the Government of Iran against the United States and other democratic countries; (2) describe the support Iran provides to terrorist proxies; and (3) assess and describe the adverse impacts such support causes to the people of Syria, Yemen, and other areas where they operate.”
  • Reports. “Not later than 180 days after enactment of the act, the Secretary of State shall update the report required under this heading in Senate Report 116–126 in the manner described. The Secretary of State shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations the semi-annual report required by section135(d)(4) of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C. 2160e(d)(4)), as added by section 2 of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (Public Law 114–17). Not later than 90 days after enactment of the act, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on: (1) the status of United States bilateral sanctions on Iran; and (2) the impact such sanctions have had, if any, on reducing Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East.”

(c) IRAQ.

The bill states that funding shall be made available for assistance to Iraq for: (A) bilateral economic assistance and international security assistance, including in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq; (B) stabilization assistance, including in Anbar Province; (C) programs to support government transparency and accountability, judicial independence, protect the right of due process, and combat corruption; (D) humanitarian assistance, including in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq; and (E) programs to protect and assist religious and ethnic minority populations in Iraq.” The bill also stipulates that such FMF funding for Iraqi security forces must be “monitored in accordance with sections 502B [Human Rights] and 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 [Limitation on Assistance to Security Forces]

The Explanatory Statement accompanying the bill notes that the Committee “intends that U.S. diplomatic engagement with, and sustained economic and military assistance for, Iraq should continue to strengthen Iraq’s democratic institutions, security and stability, and long-term development.” It goes on to state:

  • Civilian Victims. “The Committee recommends that $5,000,000 under the ESF heading be made available from the Marla Ruzicka Fund for Innocent Victims of Conflict to assist Iraqis harmed as a result of U.S. and coalition military operations, operations of Iraqi security forces, and terrorist attacks in Iraq. Such funds shall be administered by USAID. Not later than 45 days after enactment of the act, the USAID Administrator shall consult with the Committees on Appropriations on the use of such funds.
  • Democracy Programs. “Of the funds made available by the act for democracy programs in Iraq, not less than $25,000,000 shall be made available to DRL for such programs.
  • Justice Sector Assistance. “The Committee is aware of sys-temic problems in Iraq’s judicial system, including arbitrary arrests, torture of detainees, a lack of due process, and unfair trials. The Committee recommends not less than $5,000,000 under the INCLE and ESF headings to support the Iraqi justice sector, including to combat corruption, strengthen adherence to international standards of due process, improve juvenile justice, provide for the humane treatment of prisoners, and support civil society engagement with the judiciary. Such funds shall be made available following consultation with the Committees on Appropriations.”
  • Scholarships. The Committee recommends $10,000,000 for scholarships for students in Iraq, including in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, at not-for-profit, American-style educational institutions that meet standards comparable to those required for U.S. accreditation. Such funds should include support for programs that equip Iraqi university and institute graduates with the knowledge and skills required to obtain gainful employment in the private sector, and shall be awarded on an open and competitive basis.”

(d) ISRAEL.

This is the first year funding for Israel has been moved into this section of the bill (where it belongs) – good news for anyone trying to read/make sense of the bill (may it continue this way!).

FMF: This section includes perennial text (in the past included in the main section under FMF), earmarking “not less that $3,300,000,000” in Foreign Military Financing funds for Israel. It also includes the perennial requirement that the funds be disbursed within 30 days of enactment of this Act, and the stipulation that Israel may use a portion of the funding – $785,300,000 – “for the procurement in Israel of defense articles and defense services, including research and development.”

MRA: This section includes perennial text (in the past included in the main section under MRA), earmarking $5 million in Migration and Refugee Assistance funding for “refugees resettling in Israel.” The Explanatory Statement accompanying the bill stipulates that “Funds for refugee resettlement in Israel under this heading shall be awarded by the Department of State on an open and competitive basis.”

The Explanatory statement also notes: “The Committee supports cooperation between the  Department of State and USAID and Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation to advance shared development goals in third countries across a variety of sectors, including energy, agriculture, food security, democracy, governance, economic growth, trade, education, the environment, health, water, and sanitation.”

(e) JORDAN.

This section states: “Of the funds appropriated by this Act under titles III and IV, not less than $1,250,000,000 shall be made available for assistance for Jordan: Provided, That up to an additional $400,000,000 under the heading ‘Economic Support Fund’ may be made available for assistance for Jordan, including for budget support.” In addition, a new, separate part of this section of the bill, part 7041 (m), stipulates that prior to the obligation of any ESF for Jordan, the State Department must report to Congress on the extent to which the Government of Jordan is making consistent progress in increasing equitable economic growth and opportunity, improving governance, and reducing corruption, including by implementing a list of specified economic & governance reforms.

The Explanatory Statement accompanying the bill includes extensive language related to Jordan:

  • The Committee notes that Jordan is an important U.S. ally in a dangerous and unstable region. The Committee is also aware that Jordan faces daunting economic and security challenges, which if not addressed could threaten its future stability. These include extremely high unemployment among Jordanians between the ages of 18 and 34, insufficient government revenues to ensure a reliable source of water for Jordan’s population, an inflated civil service comprised of 47 percent of employed Jordanians whose salaries alone reportedly consume 80 percent of the government’s budget, and corruption in both public and private sectors.
  • In addition, Jordan is hosting between 1 and 2 million refugees, including Palestinians, Syrians, and Iraqis who put great pressures on Jordan’s public services and for whom the United States and other donors provide hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian assistance. The country also faces the prospects of severe and prolonged drought due to climate change and continuing violence and instability on its borders in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq.
  • While the United States can assist Jordan in meeting these challenges, Jordan’s future stability depends on its own government taking the necessary steps to address them urgently and decisively. The existing Memorandum of Understanding [MOU] between Jordan and the United States calls for annual U.S. assistance of $1,250,000,000, which is the amount in the budget request. The Committee recommends that amount and, following consultation  with the Department of State and the Government of Jordan, has incentivized additional assistance for Jordan on achievable reforms, and benchmarks for measuring progress, to be negotiated between the Department and the Government of Jordan. The intent of such incentivization of assistance is to encourage the Government of Jordan to successfully implement such reforms, including within the judicial system. If implemented, such reforms should put Jordan’s economy, and its future security, on a more self-reliant, stable, and sustainable path.
  • The Committee is aware of negotiations underway between the Department of State and the Government of Jordan on a new MOU on assistance. The Committee expects that the MOU will formalize the incentivization of a portion of assistance for the duration of the MOU, and will include specific details on processes and procedures for the implementation of agreed upon reforms.
  • High Quality Crafts.—The Committee recommends funding for programs that use the high quality craft sector as a catalyst for sustainable economic growth in Jordan, especially at  Umm Qais in Northern Jordan.
  • Justice Sector Reform.—The Committee is concerned with reports of corruption and abuses within Jordan’s judicial system, including arbitrary and incommunicado detention, mistreatment of detainees by General Intelligence Directorate personnel, and irregularities by prosecutorial authorities, and urges the Government of Jordan to prioritize law enforcement and judicial reforms. 

(f) LEBANON.

This section stipulates that INCLE and FMF made available for Lebanon “may be made available for programs and equipment for the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) to address security and stability requirements in areas affected by conflict in Syria, following consultation with the appropriate congressional committees.” It also states that FMF for Lebanon may ONLY be used to “professionalize the LAF to mitigate internal and external threats from non-state actors, including Hizballah; (ii) strengthen border security and combat terrorism, including training and equipping the LAF to secure the borders of Lebanon and address security and stability requirements in areas affected by conflict in Syria, interdicting arms shipments, and preventing the use of Lebanon as a safe haven for terrorist groups; and (iii) implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701.”

The section also stipulates that the Secretary of State must submit a spend plan to Congress prior to obligating any funds for Lebanon; that notification to Congress of any funding for Lebanon shall include any funds specifically intended for lethal military equipment” and a final limitation that no funding may be made available for the ISF or LAF if either is controlled by an FTO.

In addition, a new, separate part of this section of the bill, part 7041 (m), stipulates that prior to the obligation of any ESF for Lebanon, the State Department must report to Congress on the extent to which the Government of Lebanon is making consistent progress in increasing equitable economic growth and opportunity, improving governance, and reducing corruption, including by implementing a list of specified economic & governance reforms.

The Explanatory Statement accompanying the bill notes:

  • The Committee recommends not less than $295,960,000 for assistance for Lebanon, and continues conditions on assistance in a manner similar to the prior fiscal year. The Committee also supports additional assistance for Lebanon under the IDA heading, and notes that a further weakening of stability in Lebanon will have significant, adverse consequences for the Middle East and Europe regions.
  • Border Dispute Resolution.”The Committee supports efforts to help facilitate the resolution of border disputes between Lebanon and Israel. Not later than 90 days after enactment of the act, the Secretary of State shall brief the Committees on Appropriations on steps taken during the prior year to resolve such disputes.”
  • Lebanese Armed Forces. “As in the past, the Committee expects that no funds made available by the act will benefit or legitimize Hizballah or any other FTOs operating in Lebanon. The Committee notes that as a current recipient of U.S. foreign assistance, the Lebanese Armed Forces [LAF] are not controlled by an FTO. Not later than 60 days after enactment of the act, the Secretary of State shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations a report detailing any credible information available to the Secretary regarding the use of torture or other cruel or inhuman treatment at prisons and other detention facilities administered by the LAF and Internal Security Forces [ISF].”
  • Lebanese Scholarships. “The Committee recommends $12,000,000 for scholarships for Lebanese students with high financial need to attend not-for-profit educational institutions in Lebanon that meet standards comparable to those required for American accreditation. Students should be eligible for scholarships if they demonstrate financial need, have strong academic records, and show potential to contribute to the long-term political, economic, and social development of Lebanon…”
  • Political and Economic Crises. “The Committee is aware of the adverse impact Lebanon’s political and economic crises have on the security and stability of that country, and on the ability of the Department of State and USAID to effectively implement humanitarian and development programs. Not later than 45 days after enactment of the act, the Secretary of State shall consult with the Committees on Appropriations on how best to address livelihood support for the LAF and ISF to mitigate the impact of the economic crisis on operations and to help strengthen security and stability in Lebanon.”
  • Port Explosion. “The Committee supports continued assist-ance for recovery related to the August 2020 explosion at the Beirut port.”
  • Refugee Scholarships. “The Committee recommends $9,000,000 to continue the undergraduate and graduate scholarship program for refugees in Lebanon, including Palestinians and Syrians. Such funds are in addition to funds made available for assistance for Lebanon under the ESF heading and are to be administered consistent with the Lebanon scholarship program at not-for-profit educational institutions in Lebanon that meet the standards required for American accreditation.”

(g) LIBYA.

This section states: “Funds appropriated under titles III and 3 IV of this Act shall be made available for stabilization assistance for Libya, including support for a United Nations-facilitated political process and border security: Provided, That the limitation on the uses of funds for certain infrastructure projects in section 7041(f)(2) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2014 (division K of Public Law 113–76) shall apply to such funds.”

(h) SAUDI ARABIA.

The section bars direct U.S. funding for Saudi Arabia. It also states that no US funding “should” (note the verb) “be obligated or expended by the Export-Import Bank of the United States to guarantee, insure, or extend (or participate in the extension of) credit in connection with the export of nuclear technology, equipment, fuel, materials, or other nuclear technology-related goods or services to Saudi Arabia unless the Government of Saudi Arabia— (A) has in effect a nuclear cooperation agreement pursuant to section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C. 2153); (B) has committed to renounce uranium enrichment and reprocessing on its territory under that agreement; and (C) has signed and implemented an Additional Protocol to its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

(i) SYRIA.

The bill text states that funding from ESF, INCLE. And PKO may be made available “notwithstanding any other provision of law, for non-lethal stabilization assistance for Syria, including for emergency medical and rescue response and chemical weapons investigations.” The text also states that such funds “may not be made available for a project or activity that supports or otherwise legitimizes the Government of Iran, foreign terrorist organizations…or a proxy of Iran in Syria.” Furthermore, such funds may not be used for activities “that further the strategic objectives of the Government of the Russian Federation that the Secretary of State determines may threaten or undermine United States national security interests.” And finally, such funds “should not be used in areas of Syria controlled by a government led by Bashar al-Assad or associated forces.” The bill also provides the President authority for additional emergency funding (if it is important to the national interests of the United States) and states that “Funds made available pursuant to this subsection may only be made available following consultation with the appropriate congressional committees, and shall be subject to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.”

The Explanatory Statement accompanying the bill notes that “Section 7063(b)(1)(A) of the act requires a spend plan for assistance for Syria, which shall include a timeline for obligation and expenditure of funds, including funds previously appropriated and not yet obligated or expended, and funds received by the U.S. Government from international donors and foreign governments.” It also states that “Not later than 45 days after enactment of the act, the Secretary of State shall brief the Committees on Appropriations on the feasibility of utilizing the Marla Ruzicka Fund for Innocent Victims of Conflict in Syria.”

Elsewhere in the Explanatory statement, there is a stipulation that: “Not later than 45 days after enactment of the act, the Secretary of State shall consult with the Committees on Appropriations on: (1) the number of secure facilities abroad; and (2) Department of State operations regarding Syria, includingUSAID offices in Turkey.”

(j) TUNISIA.

This section states that funds in this Act under “Bilateral Economic Assistance” and “International Security should” be made available to Tunisia for the purposes of implementing the following reforms: “(1) implementing free market and civil service reforms, raising revenue to support public utilities and services, and reducing subsidies; (2) improving transparency and accountability to reduce waste, enhance efficiencies, and prevent conflicts of interest and other corrupt practices related to public service and expenditures; (3) enforcing laws and policies that protect freedom of expression, association, and the press, and the right of due process; and (4) strengthening judicial independence, including the transparent selection of judges.

FMF: With respect to FMF, the bill states that before obligating FMF funds for Tunisia (but not less than 45 days after enactment of this Act), the Secretary of State shall submit a report to Congress on whether: (A) the Tunisian military has participated in or otherwise supported the democratic backsliding in Tunisia; (B) the Government of Tunisia is using or relying on the military to reinforce its autocratic actions; and (C) the government is taking credible steps to restore constitutional order and democratic governance, including respecting freedom of expression, association, and the press, and the rights of members of political parties.”

The Explanatory Statement accompanying the bill states: “The Committee notes that the Arab Spring movement originated in Tunisia, but that after several years of incremental progress in building the foundations of a democratic society, recent actions by the current head of state have called into question the Government of Tunisia’s commitment to democracy. The Committee urges that Government to reaffirm that commitment, and to take the necessary steps to protect the rights of members of political parties, and to restore the democratic institutions that are the foundation of representative government. The Committee is concerned that corruption is entrenched in the public and private sectors in Tunisia, and is an impediment to equitable economic growth and threatens stability. The Committee urges the Government of Tunisia to demonstrate that those who engage in corrupt practices, especially individuals in positions of authority who violate the public trust, will be held accountable. The Secretary of State should apply section 7031(c) of this act to such individuals in Tunisia.”

(k) WEST BANK AND GAZA.

Assistance: This section earmarks not less than $225 million for ESF for programs in the West Bank and Gaza, “including for water, sanitation, and other municipal infrastructure projects.”

Report: Before obligating any of that ESF, the Secretary of State must report to Congress that “the purpose of such assistance is to – (A) advance Middle East peace; (B) improve security in the region; (C) continue support for transparent and accountable government institutions; (D) promote a private sector economy; or (E) address urgent humanitarian needs.”

Limitations – ESF: This is perennial language barring any ESF from being used for assistance to the PA if, after the enactment of the Act, the Palestinians have joined any new UN agencies or are have initiated or are supporting action against Israel at the ICC [NOTE: this later condition has already been violated]. There is a waiver for the UN agencies-related condition (for reasons of US interests and if the Secretary of State explains to Congress “how the waiver and continuing assistance would assist in furthering Middle East peace”), but there is no waiver for the ICC condition [and given that there is an ongoing case against Israel at the ICC, backed by the Palestinians, this provision in effect bars aid to the PA, period]. **NOTE: With the Taylor Force Act in force, all of this is moot, since that law bars any U.S. funding for the PA. But since no member of Congress ever wants to be accused of being soft on the Palestinians, this provision – which today is utterly pointless and gratuitous – remains in place**

Limitations – Palestinian mission in the US: This is perennial language that provides the president partial authority to waive the ban on the PLO mission operating in the US (which is found in the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987). Partial, because that authority is also conditioned on the Palestinians not joining any new UN agencies and not initiating or supporting action against Israel at the ICC. If those conditions cannot be satisfied, the President can still waive the ban on the PLO operating in the U.S. (for 6 months at a time), but only if he certifies, instead, that “the Palestinians have entered into direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel” [something over which the Palestinians have only very partial, limited control].

Taylor Force Act: The bill states that ESF for the West Bank and Gaza “shall be made available consistent with section 1004(a) of the Taylor Force Act (title X of Division S of Public Law 115-141) [as a reminder, the Taylor Force Act bars any funding for the PA or for anything that “directly benefits” the PA.

The Explanatory Statement notes that the Committee “recommends not less than $225,000,000 under the ESF heading for assistance for the West Bank and Gaza, and $40,000,000 under the INCLE heading for the Palestinian security assistance program.” It goes on to stipulate:

  • Accountability: “…prior to the initial obligation of funds under the INCLE heading for Palestinian security forces, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations detailing steps the Palestinian Authority is taking to bring to justice those involved in ordering, directing, and carrying out the murder of Nizar Banat on June 24, 2021, and to release those wrongfully detained for peacefully protesting his death.”
  • Assessment: “Funds made available for assistance for the West Bank and Gaza under the ESF heading should be made available for a comprehensive assessment of the electricity and water infrastructure requirements in the West Bank and Gaza, which may include relevant information from the World Bank, UN, and other international donors, following consultation with the Committees on Appropriations. Such consultation shall also include the feasibility of establishing a financing mechanism, in coordination with other donors, to address the requirements determined by such assessment.”
  • Municipal Infrastructure: “The Committee urges the Secretary of State and USAID Administrator to provide assistance to encourage Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation and to support municipal infrastructure improvements, such as water and sanitation, roads, and other community projects, which are necessary for a sustainable two-state solution.”
  • Report on Incitement: “Not later than 90 days after enactment of the act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees detailing steps taken by the Palestinian Authority and by the other governments in the region to counter incitement of violence and to promote tolerance, peace, and coexistence.” [One has to wonder – does the Committee intend the term “other governments in the region” to include Israel? Given the high level of anti-Palestinian incitement and settler/IDF violence against Palestinians that goes on on a daily basis, this would make sense – but who are we kidding? Of course it won’t apply to Israel. To even suggest Israel has an incitement problem would almost certainly be deemed anti-Israel and antisemitic.]
  • Security Report: “The reporting requirements in section 1404 of the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 (Public Law 110–252) shall apply to funds made available by the act, including a description of modifications, if any, to the security strategy of the Palestinian Authority.”

(l) WESTERN SAHARA.

This (new) section stipulates that funding shall be made available for assistance for the Western Sahara, “including to support diplomatic efforts to facilitate a political settlement of the conflict in the Western Sahara.” It also states that no funds “may be used to support the construction or operation in the Western Sahara of a United States consulate.”

The Explanatory statement notes: “The Committee urges the Secretary of State to promote the establishment of a human rights monitoring and reporting mechanism within the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara. The Committee recommends not less than $5,000,000 under the DA heading for assistance for the Western Sahara, and directs the USAID Administrator to consult with the Committees on Appropriations on the planned uses of such funds.”

(m) ECONOMIC & GOVERNANCE REFORMS.

This (new) section stipulates that prior to “Prior to the initial obligation of funds appropriated by this Act under the heading ‘Economic Support Fund’ for assistance for the governments of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia, but not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations on the extent to which each government is making consistent progress in increasing equitable economic growth and opportunity, improving governance, and reducing corruption, including by — 

(1) implementing free market and civil service reforms, raising revenue to support public utilities and services, and reducing subsidies; 

(2) improving transparency and accountability to reduce waste, enhance efficiencies, and prevent conflicts of interest and other corrupt practices related to public service and expenditures; 

(3) enforcing laws and policies that protect freedom of expression, association, and the press, and the right of due process; and 

(4) strengthening judicial independence, including the transparent selection of judges.”

________________________

Section 7046: EUROPE & EURASIA.  Part (d) of this section states: “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to facilitate or support the sale of defense articles or defense services to the Turkish Presidential Protection Directorate (TPPD) under Chapter 2 of the Arms Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2761 et seq.) unless the Secretary of State determines and reports to the appropriate congressional committees that members of the TPPD who are named in the July 17, 2017, indictment by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and against whom there are pending charges, have returned to the United States to stand trial in connection with the offenses contained in such indictment or have otherwise been brought to justice: Provided, That the limitation in this paragraph shall not apply to the use of funds made available by this Act for border security purposes, for North Atlantic Treaty Organization or coalition operations, or to enhance the protection of United States officials and facilities in Turkey.

The Explanatory statement notes: “The Committee calls on the Government of Turkey to immediately release the remaining locally employed U.S. Embassy employee, and to dismiss the false charges against him and two other locally employed staff whose cases are on appeal. The Committee directs the Secretary of State to submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees on the status of their cases not later than 45 days after enactment of the act and every 90 days thereafter until September 30, 2022. The Committee is also concerned with widespread arbitrary detention and abuse of the judicial process in Turkey, as well as reports of torture and other mistreatment of detainees.”

Sec. 7048 – UNITED NATIONS. This section of the bill includes perennial provisions targeting the United Nations, including: 

No $$ for agencies headed by bad guys: Part (b) of this section prohibits funding expenses for expenses for any US delegation to anything having to do with, or contributions to any agency, body, or commission associated with the UN that is chaired or presided over by a country, the government of which the Secretary of State has determined, according to U.S. law, “supports international terrorism.” In addition, it bars US contributions to any organization, agency, commission, or program within the United Nations system if such organization, agency, commission, or program is chaired or presided over by a country the government of which the Secretary of State has determined “has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.” This section includes authority for the Secretary of state to waive this prohibition if it is important for the national interest of the United States. 

Pressure on UN Human Rights Council (over Israel): Part (c) of this section permits funding for the UNHRC “unless the Secretary of State determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that participation in the Council does not serve the national interest of the United States and that the Council is not taking significant steps to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item and ensure integrity in the election of members to such Council.” In the event that the Secretary of State makes such a report to Congress, it “shall describe why participation in the Council does not serve the national interest and the steps that should be taken to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item and ensure integrity in the election of members to such Council.” In addition, this paragraph requires the Secretary of State to report to Congress “on September 30, 2022, on the resolutions considered in the United Nations Human Rights Council during the previous 12 months, and on steps taken to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item and ensure integrity in the election of members to such Council.”

The Explanatory Statement accompanying the bill also requires that “The Committee is concerned with the establishment in May 2021 of an unprecedented, permanent commission of inquiry to investigate Israel. While the Committee recognizes that no country is immune from legitimate criticism, it deplores the anti-Israel bias and waste of resources evidenced by maintaining Israel, and no other country, as a permanent item on the UN Human Rights Council’s agenda. The Committee notes that the best way for the United States to counter such bias is to be a member of the Council, and to advocate for removing Israel as a permanent agenda item and for using the Council’s limited budget to the greatest effect in protecting human rights globally.

UNRWA: Part (d) of this section of the bill stipulates that funding “should be made available” to UNRWA, unless the Secretary of State determines and reports to Congress that UNRWA is failing to meet a list of specific benchmarks (benchmarks that have been basically consistent for a number of years and that UNRWA has satisfied). The Explanatory Statement accompanying the bill states: “Not later than 90 days after enactment of the act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations on reforms implemented by UNRWA during the past three years.”

Pressure on UNESCO & Other UN Agencies (over Israel): Part (f) requires reporting to Congress on any U.S. contributions to international organizations that are withheld due to any provision of law [for example, U.S. funding to UNESCO, barred because UNESCO admitted the Palestinians as full members]. BUT — see Sec. 7072, below, regarding a long-anticipated waiver of the ban on U.S. engagement with UNESCO.

General: With respect to the UN, the Explanatory Statement accompanying the bill also stipulates:

  • “In considering bilateral assistance for a foreign government, the Secretary of State shall review, among other factors, the voting practices of such government at the UN in relation to U.S. strategic interests.”
  • “United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.—The Committee notes the importance of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon [UNIFIL] mission and directs the Secretary of State to brief the Committees on Appropriations prior to future negotiations on the extension of UNIFIL’s mandate.”
  • “Report on Bias at the United Nations.—Not later than 90 days after enactment of the act, the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations shall submit a report to the Committees on Ap-propriations on instances of anti-Israel and anti-American bias at the UN during the prior calendar year, including an identification of any specialized agencies where such bias has been demonstrated during the prior calendar year.”

SEC. 7050. GLOBAL INTERNET FREEDOM. This section of the bill provides not less than $81 million from various funding categories to promote Internet freedom globally, including for programs to implement “the comprehensive strategy to promote Internet freedom and access to information in Iran, as required by section 414 of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (22 U.S.C. 24 8754).”

Sec. 7062. SECTOR ALLOCATIONS. Part (f) of this section earmarks not less than $30 million in DA “to support people-to-people reconciliation programs which bring together individuals of different ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds from areas of civil strife and war, including cross border programs involving Palestinians and Israelis.

The Explanatory Statement adds: “The Committee recommends $30,000,000 under the DA heading for reconciliation programs and activities that bring together and facilitate direct communication between individuals of different ethnic, racial, religious, and political backgrounds from areas affected by civil strife and war, including cross-border programs between Israelis and Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. Funds should be leveraged, to the maximum extent practicable, to obtain contributions from other donors and governments.”

Sec. 7072. [****UNESCO FUNDING WAIVER****] This new provision stipulates that, “The President may waive section 414 of Public Law 101–246 and section 410 of Public Law 103– 236 on a case-by-case basis if the President determines and reports in writing to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and the appropriate congressional committees that to do so would enable the United States to counter Chinese influence or to promote other national interests of the United States: Provided, That the authority of this section shall cease to have effect if, after enactment of this Act, the Palestinians obtain the same standing as member states or full membership as a state in the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof outside an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians: Provided further, That the authority of this section shall sunset on September 30, 2025, unless extended in a subsequent Act of Congress.”

The Explanatory Statement notes: “SEC. 7072. Waiver Authority. Includes new language regarding U.S. participation in UN specialized agencies. UNESCO.—The Committee provides waiver authority to enable the United States to rejoin UNESCO in order to counter the increasing influence of the PRC, which during the nearly three-year absence of the United States has become UNESCO’s largest donor, and to promote other important United States national interests.

Media reports

Jewish Insider 10/19: Senate follows House in proposing $225 million for Palestinian aid

Jewish News Syndicate 10/19: Senate proposes $225 million in assistance to Palestinians, echoing bill passed by House

Jewish Insider 10/18:     Senate Dems move to include Iron Dome in 2022 defense funding bill

 

3.The Great 2021 Iron Dome Supplemental Debacle (cont.)

For those who need to catch up on what has happened BEFORE this week, see:

Iron Dome Supplemental – What happened this week?

1) This week, Rand Paul’s (R-KY) hold continued to prevent passage of the Iron Dome supplemental.  As a result, HR 5323, the funding bill that was passed by the House on September 23rd by a vote of 420-9, remains stalled in the Senate.

2) Seeking to get around this obstacle, Senate appropriations have now put the supplemental $1 billion for Israel for Iron Dome into the FY22 Defense Appropriations bill. This back-up strategy may not be much of a back-up, given that there are good odds that the bill won’t pass (see Section 2, above, for details).

3) As noted last week, the public debate around the Iron Dome supplemental $1 billion over these past weeks has been enormously clarifying — demonstrating categorically that the vicious political battle that accompanied consideration of $1 billion in supplemental funding for Israel for Iron Dome in the House was never really about Iron Dome.

As this latest chapter in this drama continues — with Paul blocking these same funds in the Senate for weeks, after the House passed the funding in a matter of days — demonstrates, irrefutably, that the battle in the House was solely about rendering support for Palestinian rights in Congress politically radioactive. Because as has been the case since 10/8, there continues to be virtual silence* from the ranks of those, both inside and outside of Congress, who previously howled with outrage (for more than a week), accusing Democrats of antisemitism and compromising Israel’s security over a brief (less than 2-day) procedural delay in approving the funds in the House. And as has been the case in recent weeks, while there has been this silence with respect to Paul blocking the funding, Republicans and right-wing defenders of Israel continue to use the debate around Iron Dome in the House to bash Democrats as anti-Israel and supportive of terror. For example:

 

4. Hearings & Markups

October 27: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “The State of the State Department and State Department Authorization.” The sole scheduled witness (as of now) is Brian McKeon Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources.

October 18: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a business meeting to vote on a number of Biden nominees, including Tom Nides to be US ambassador to Israel (approved by the Committee) and Barbara Leaf to be Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (not approved by the Committee. The full list of approved nominees (which now go to the Senate floor for a vote) is here. Also see:

 

5. On the Record

Israel Declares War on Palestinian Human Rights Defenders

Pocan (D-WI) 10/22: Tweet – “Israel should rescind their blanket decision to label Palestinian civil rights organizations as terrorist groups. Many of these organizations are working to bring peace in the region and are vocal critics Hamas & the PA.

McCollum (D-MN) 10/22: McCollum Statement on Designation of Palestinian Civil Society Groups as Terrorist Organizations [“I condemn this action to shut down legitimate civil society organizations advocating for Palestinian human rights. This is nothing more than an attempt to silence supporters of Palestinian rights. It is anti-democratic, and contrary to the values expected of a U.S. ally. I urge the Biden administration to immediately call upon the Israeli government to reverse their decision and restore these organizations’ ability to continue their important work. For years, I have worked with Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) to protect the rights of Palestinian children who are imprisoned in Israeli military detention facilities. I trust and value DCIP’s work advancing human rights. I stand with Amnesty International in challenging this decision.”]

Omar (D-MN) 10/22: Tweet – “Labelling effective NGOs ‘terrorists’ is a textbook way to evade accountability for human rights violations—and an affront to everyone who cares about peace. There must be immediate consequences from the US and the international community for this brazen act.

Tlaib (D-MI) 10/22: Tweet – “The apartheid regime’s labeling of award-winning human rights groups as terrorist organizations—just because they speak truths about Israel’s violence & its human impact—is grossly antidemocratic and dangerous. The U.S. must end funding for human rights abuses. Enough.”

Garcia (D-IL) 10/22: Tweet – “I stand with @amnesty and @hrw in condemning the Israeli government for effectively banning legitimate civil society Palestinian organizations. This shocking decision must be reversed.”

Lowenthal (D-CA) 10/22: Tweet – “Crackdowns on dissenting voices in the West Bank are counterproductive and unacceptable. I thank the Biden administration for speaking out on this critical issue.” Linked to article, U.S. Seeks Clarification After Israel Labels Six Palestinian NGOs as Terror Groups (Haaretz)

Carson (D-IN) 10/22: Tweets – “I strongly oppose Israel’s blanket decision to shut down 6 prominent Palestinian human rights organizations doing important humanitarian work in the region. This decision is based on false characterizations, and will harm countless people who depend on these organizations for lifesaving support.”

The Sunrise Movement-DC’s Statement

Levin (D-MI) 10/22: Twitter thread – “Questioning Israeli policy and practice is fair game, as with any other government. Saying the Jewish people have no rights to a homeland of our own is not. I am a strong supporter of Israel’s right to exist in peace and security and have fought for the full realization of Palestinian human and political rights for 30 years – and won’t give up. I am an original cosponsor of the Green New Deal and support Green New Deal legislation in the House. And I am a passionate advocate for DC Statehood and voting rights. All of this lives together happily in one person. I appreciate this clarification statement from @sunrisemvmt about the harmful antisemitism that occurred, and I am hopeful that this can lead to more communication and exchange, which we need more of instead of exclusion and vitriol.” [linked to tweet from the Sunrise Movement disavowing the statement by Sunrise-DC]

Rice (D-NY) 10/21: Tweet – “I condemn this decision in the strongest terms. Withdrawing from a political event because of the participation of Jewish groups is antisemitism.” Linked to article,  Environmental group boycotts voting rights rally over inclusion of Zionist groups (The Forward)

Suozzi (D-NY) 10/21: Twitter thread –  “Sunrise Movement’s DC chapter’s refusal to take part in Saturday’s voting rights rally because of the involvement of progressive Jewish groups is misguided, counterproductive, and just plain wrong. (1/3) Support for Israel does not disqualify any individuals’ or groups’ right to participate in American public life. I am very supportive of the green movement in our country and I am also very supportive of Israel. The Sunrise Movement simply got this one wrong. (2/3) We must stand together against discriminatory voter laws and ensure equal and fair access to the ballot box for everyone. (3/3)” Linked to article, Sunrise Movement’s DC chapter boycotts event due to ‘participation of Zionist organizations’ (Jewish Insider)

Nadler (D-NY) 10/21: Tweet – “Refusing to participate in civic life with Jewish groups- especially those groups who are committed to social justice here in the US, in Israel and around the world- is misguided, unproductive, offensive and wrong.” Linked to Sunset Movement-DC statement.

Torres (D-NY) 10/21: Tweet – “There’s a concerted effort to ideologically cleanse progressive politics of anyone or anything that dares to believe in Israel’s right to exist. The fearmongering about “Zionist organizations” has an undeniable undercurrent of Antisemitism that cannot and should not be ignored.” Linked to tweet from the ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt.

Meng (D-NY) 10/21: Tweets – “The refusal to take part in this event because Jewish organizations are participating is unfortunate & wrong, & I am disappointed by this decision. This type of action is unhelpful and counterproductive, & takes needed attention away from such a vital issue as voting rights.” & “We must all stand united against discriminatory voter laws and ensure access to the ballot box. This issue is too serious for us to be divided.”

Also see – Jewish Insider 10/21: Sunrise Movement’s DC chapter boycotts event due to ‘participation of Zionist organizations’ [sub-headline: “None of the members of Congress endorsed by the Sunrise Movement responded to questions regarding the decision by the group’s Washington arm to pull out of a voting rights rally because of the involvement of progressive Jewish groups”]

Also see: Jewish Insider 10/22: ‘This is what bigotry looks like’ — Jewish groups react to national Sunrise Movement statement [“Two members of Congress who were endorsed in 2020 by the environmental group told JI that they oppose Sunrise DC’s actions. ​​Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-NY) condemned Sunrise Movement DC’s ‘call for the exclusion of these Jewish organizations’ in a statement to JI. ‘With our democracy in crisis, we need everyone to stand up for the right to vote, free and fair elections, and the transformative legislation this moment demands,” he said. “We must focus on building a broad coalition to support our democracy, not excluding groups for unfair and arbitrary reasons. I condemn the call for the exclusion of these Jewish organizations from this event.’ In a statement, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) told JI that ‘antisemitism in any form is appalling and must be denounced by anyone dedicated to fighting for social justice. I condemn hate in all its forms and stand with Jewish Americans who have been targeted. As we fight for voting rights and freedom, we need to include as many partners, allies, and organizations as possible, and division and contempt will only undermine the critical goal of protecting our democracy.’”]

Miscellaneous

Fleishman (R-TN) 10/22: Tweet – “Standing strong with our allies should be non-negotiable. But Joe Biden would rather give pallets of cash to our enemy Iran than supporting our ally Israel.

Pence (R-IN) 10/20: Floor statement – Remembering The Tragedy Of The Beirut Barracks Attack

Israeli Minister of Communications 10/21: Tweet – “@SenatorLujan, Chairman of The Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, for your support of Israel, and co-operation on communications infrastructure, regulation, and spectrum, and discourse on advancing the technological revolution and social networks.”

Meng (D-NY) 10/18: Twitter thread – “This past week, history was made. For the first time, Israel and its Arab neighbors with which it has normalized relations sat down to discuss how to expand their relationships: https://bit.ly/3BUoIIY. 1/2 The strengthening of cultural, educational and economic ties between Israel and its neighbors will only benefit the region at large. It is great to see such efforts by think tanks, civil society and others to advance normalization efforts. 2/2

Deutch (D-FL) 10/15: Twitter thread – “Yesterday, the U.S. was re-elected to @UN_HRC. Human rights belong at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy. By being back on #UNHRC, we have the chance to defend int’l human rights and push back on those who try to ignore or distort the very meaning of universal human rights. The Human Rights Council is the @UN body responsible for promoting and protecting global human rights, but it isn’t made up of rights-respecting countries. Known human rights abusers – Russia, China, Venezuela and Cuba – have the responsibility to defend human rights! Without a 2/3 majority, no enforceable mechanisms prevent human rights abusers from getting a seat at the table. That must change, and now is the time to take stock. In order to make meaningful, needed reforms, there must be standards for #UNHRC membership. As @USAmbUN said yesterday: ‘We hold others to our own standard: while we may sometimes fall short of our own ideals, we must constantly strive to be as inclusive, rights respecting, and free as possible.’ We must be able to expect the same commitment from all #UNHRC members. I also applaud @USAmbUN for pledging to push back on the council’s fixation on Israel, the one Jewish state in the world, that happens to also be the only nation with a permanent agenda item at the Human Rights Council. This, too, must change.”

Media- the Race to Succeed Alcee Hastings (profiling pro-Israel bona fides of candidates)

Jewish Insider 10/22:     A former Florida House minority leader has his eye on Washington

Jewish Insider 10/21:     Bobby DuBose wants to bring his Tallahassee experience to D.C.

Jewish Insider 10/20:     Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick hopes the third time’s a charm in FL20

Jewish Insidern 10/19: Dale Holness vows to continue Alcee Hastings’s legacy in Congress

Media – other

Jewish Insider 10/22: Pelosi airs frustrations with Israelis over Iran deal

Jewish Insider 10/20: Rep. Marie Newman at risk in Illinois redistricting [“Since arriving in Washington, Newman has also garnered attention for her position on Israel. Last month, she joined eight Democrats in voting against a $1 billion supplemental funding package for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system.”]

Jewish Insider 10/20:     Israeli security advocates to bring message of strength to Washington [“A group of retired Israeli army generals will travel to Washington next week with a clear message for decision-makers and opinion-shapers: The only formula for peace is a strong Israel. Brig. Gen. (res) Amir Avivi and Brig. Gen. (res) Yossi Kuperwasser of Israel’s newly formed Defense and Security Forum (Habithonistim in Hebrew) will meet with administration officials, members of Congress from both parties, including Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX)…”]

Algeminer: The Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life, 2021 – Mitch McConnell

Haaretz 10/19: These Two D.C. Retirements Will Hurt America’s Conversation on Israel [“Reps. John Yarmuth and David Price have long been supportive of Israel, but were also tough critics of Israeli policies they thought endangered a potential two-state solution”]

Jewish Currents (Fall 2021 issue): Ritchie Torres Is the Future of “Pro-Israel” Politics

Jewish News Syndicate 10/15: Jewish organizations join to urge Supreme Court to review terror-financing case [Excerpt – “Another friend-of-the-court brief supporting a Supreme Court review of the case was submitted on Oct. 8 by 10 U.S. senators, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.).”]