Legislative Round-Up- June 14, 2024

Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

1. Bills, Resolutions
2. Letters
3. FY25 SFOPS – House
4. FY25 NDAA – House
5. Hearings
6. Israel/Palestine in 2024 Elex/Politics
7. Selected Media & Press releases/Statements

1. Bills & Resolutions

(NO ONE WILL STOP CONGRESS FROM GIVING ISRAEL ALL THE WEAPONS IT WANTS!!!) S. 4537: Introduced 6/13/24 by Risch (R-ID), “A bill to provide for congressional oversight of proposed changes to arms sales to Israel, and for other purposes.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations

(TARGETING ACADEMIA) HR 8648: Introduced 6/7/24 by Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR), the “Civil Rights Protection Act of 2024. Referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Also see: press release – Chavez-DeRemer Leads Effort to Support Students Facing Discrimination on College and University Campuses [“‘Across the country, colleges and universities have repeatedly failed to protect Jewish students from antisemitic protests and riots. It has exposed a dire need for a comprehensive and commonsense standard for these institutions to follow when addressing discrimination. My Civil Rights Protection Act would break down barriers and ensure students have resources to protect themselves and their peers. Students experiencing discrimination already feel isolated and alone  – they shouldn’t be left in the dark by the institution that’s supposed to be doing everything possible to protect them,’ Chavez-DeRemer said.”] NOTE: this bill is being fast-tracked by House Republicans — introduced 6/7/24, and marked up/passed by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on 6/13/24 (markup video).

(TARGETING PROTESTERS & FUNDERS) H. Res. 1300: Introduced 6/13/24 by Palmer (R-AL) and 15 cosponsors (all Republicans), “Condemning campus protest backers. Referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The resolution attacks and denounces protests/protesters opposing Israel’s actions in Gaza in the wake of the October 7th Hamas attacks on Israel; implies a connection between the protests/protesters and both Hamas and Iran; condemns funders of the groups involved (including – predictably – name-checking George Soros; and “calls for a full investigation of all foreign adversaries engaged in promoting and provoking campus and public unrest.”

(DRONES) S. 4515: Introduced 6/11/24 by Romney (R-UT) and Rosen (D-NV), “A bill to combat foreign terrorist acquisition of unmanned aerial systems, and for other purposes,” aka the “Combating Foreign Terrorist Drones Act.”  Referred to the Committee on Armed Services. Also see: press release 6/12/24 — Rosen, Romney Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Keep Drones Out of the Hands of Foreign Terrorists [“...to prevent foreign terrorists—such as Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and Iran-backed groups like the Houthis—from acquiring unmanned aerial systems, or drones, to conduct attacks, collect intelligence, and deliver weapons or supplies. As recently as January 28, 2024, an Iran-backed terrorist group committed a drone attack in Jordan that killed three American soldiers and injured 40 more.“]

2. Letters

3. FY25 SFOPS (House)

>>State-of-play: On 6/12/24, the House Appropriations Committee marked up and passed (by a vote of 31-26) the base text of the FY25 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill and its accompanying report. Also see: summary (Republicans); summary (Democrats); Fact Sheet (Democrats). That hearing (video here) featured – predictably – lots of grandstanding in support of Israel and point-scoring against Palestinians, including amendments reflecting both (for a summary of Democratic amendments rejected by Republicans, and Republican amendments adopted, see the Committee’s 6/12/24 press release, Committee Approves FY25 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act. Next up: debate/amendments on the House floor (stay tuned).

>>Important Background/Context to Understand this bill: As was the case last year, it is clear that Republicans did not draft this bill with any expectation that it would attract bipartisan support in the House, or that Senate Democrats would permit it to pass into law in its current form.  Rather, this bill is about Republicans scoring populist, political points in the countdown to the November 2024 elections. That said, the fact that this won’t pass into law does not mean people should dismiss or ignore what it contains. Rather, this bill should be understood as a roadmap of what Republicans WILL pass into law if and when they have the power to do so.

>>The Middle East in the House FY25 SFOPS bill: Like the FY2024 bill, but even more so, the FY25 SFOPS bill in an expression of both unwavering, almost cult-like support for Israel and, relatedly, pathological antipathy toward any program, agency, body, government, funding, or office that Israel objects to or that in any way is viewed as critical of Israel or supportive of the Palestinians (and as noted vis-a-vis the FY24 bill, in adopting this approach, Republicans are standing on the shoulders of Democrats who have for years used this exact same framing in their own pro-Israel grandstanding). This approach, if it were to pass into law, would represent the most openly anti-Palestinian, anti-UN, anti-diplomacy, pro-Israeli impunity U.S. foreign policy in history.

My full analysis/summary of the Middle East-related details of the FY25 SFOPS bill and the accompanying report is available here.

Key elements (including new/important additions, edits and changes) are summarized below.

Aid for Israel

  • The bill includes $3.3 billion in FMF for Israel (consistent with the MOU) of which $450.3 million can be spent in Israel.
  • (CHANGED) The bill includes $6.5 million for refugee resettlement in Israel. This is an increase – since 2019 this funding had leveled off at $5 million (after being much higher at various times in the past, most recently during the period when large numbers of Jewish refugees were coming to Israel from the former Soviet Union).
  • (NEW) Section 7035, part (b)(5) would exempt Israel from limits codified under US law on the amounts of defense articles it can obtain from US war reserve stockpiles in FY25.
  • (NEW) Section 7035, Part (c)(5) would withhold 50% of funding for key State Department programs and for the office of the Secretary of State, until the Secretary of State certifies that any defense articles/services for Israel that have been previously withheld by the Biden administration have been delivered [irrespective of any US laws that might actually require them to be withheld].
  • (NEW) Section 7035, Part (c)(6) requires the Secretary of State to obligate any remaining aid for Israel within 30 days.

Boycotts of Israel/Settlements

  • (NEW) BDS REPORT TO CONGRESS: The Report accompanying the bill requires the President to report to Congress “…about the BDS campaign, which shall cover companies, international organizations,countries, and other organizations, including state investment vehicles, that are involved in promoting the movement and specific steps the Department of State has taken or expects to take to discourage or end politically-motivated efforts to boycott, divest from or sanction Israel and Israeli entities.”
  • (NEW) BDS vetting: The Report accompanying the bill requires the Secretary of state to “expand vetting policies and practices” in order to impose a blanket boycott on US assistance going “to or through any individual, private entity, government entity, or educational institution that the Secretary knows or has reason to believe advocates, plans, sponsors, engages in, or has engaged in, the BDS movement. It also directs State and USAID to “strengthen policies and procedures to ensure organizations supported through funding are not participants in the BDS movement.” NOTE: This provision — assuming it is interpreted to include differentiation between Israel and settlements, which is a reasonable assumption given how Congress has treated settlement boycotts/differentiation in the past — would not merely complicate US relationships vis-a-vis aid for/engagement with the Palestinians — it would kneecap the ability of the US to cooperate with European and most international aid organizations worldwide (most of which have a clear policy of differentiating between Israel and settlements, consistent with international law and EU policy)
  • (NEW) BDS vetting: The Report requires: Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall update the report required under this heading in House Report 118–146 on steps taken to expand vetting policies and procedures to ensure that organizations receiving United States assistance do not directly or indirectly participate in or promote the BDS movement.” 

Targeting the Palestinians/PA 

  • The bill earmarks NO FUNDING for the Palestinians/PA.
  • (CHANGED) The bill would eliminates what had up until now been a perennial waiver included of Section 7041(j), “West Bank and Gaza language enabling the the Secretary of State to waive an overarching ban on assistance to the PA in the case where the Palestinians gain status at the UN if he certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that to do so is in the national security interest of the United States, and submits a report to such Committees detailing how the waiver and the continuation of assistance would assist in furthering Middle East peace.”
  • (NEW) In this same section, the bill would add another condition for allowing the Palestinians to re-open representation in the U.S.—requiring the President to certify that the Palestinians have not “initiated any further action, whether directly or indirectly, based on an Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice that undermines direct negotiations to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including matters related to final status and Israel’s longstanding security rights and responsibilities.”
  • (CHANGED) The bill would alter– to raise the bar significantly– a perennial waiver that would allow for the re-opening a Palestinian representative office in the U.S. Previously, it required that the Palestinians “have taken credible steps to enter into direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel and it is important to the national security interests of the United States and the conduct of diplomacy in advancing Middle East peace.” In this new bill text, the requirements for using the waiver have escalated, demanding that the Palestinians, “have entered into direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel” [a requirement that the Palestinians literally do not have the power to meet unilaterally].
  • (NEW) DE-FUNDING US DIPLOMATS WHO DEAL WITH PALESTINIANS — Part (1)(c) of this section states simply: “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be made available for the Office of Palestinian Affairs, Department of State.” [The Office of Palestinian Affairs is the part of the US Embassy in Jerusalem responsible for dealing with Palestinian-related issues and engaging Palestinians.]
  • (NEW) FRAGMENTING PALESTINE: Part 5 of this section, entitled “Directive” states: “Beginning in fiscal year 2025,the Secretary of State shall bifurcate the budget operating unit of ‘West Bank and Gaza’ into separate units.” [Under the Oslo Accords (which the US ostensibly still supports), the West Bank and Gaza Strip are to be treated as a single territorial unit. Efforts to bifurcate them into separate units align closely with longstanding efforts of Greater Israel advocates.]

Targeting the UN, UNRWA, & throwing in the IHRA Definition

  • (NEW) Withholding of 15% of US funding to the UN & UN Agencies— Section 7048, Part (a) requires the withholding from obligation of 15% of the US assessed contribution to  to the United Nations, “including the Department of Peacekeeping Operations), international organizations, or any United Nations agency,” until the Secretary of State determines and reports to the appropriate congressional committees that the organization, department, or agency is meeting a laundry list of requirements, including “taking credible steps to combat anti-Israel bias.”
  • (NEW) Enforcing the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism—The Report accompanying the bill notes, with respect to that above-mentioned report, that: “In carrying out the requirement of subsection (a), the Secretary of State shall also consider and report on efforts to combat antisemitism, as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, as appropriate.”
  • (CHANGED) The bill eliminates a waiver, included in past SFOPS bills, giving the Secretary of State the authority to waive – for the sake of  the national interest of the United States – restrictions on funding for UN agencies headed by a country associated with terrorism.
  • (NEW) De-funding UNRWA—Part (d) of this section bars any US funding for UNRWA, bars the US from doing anything to “to solicit or otherwise encourage funds for UNRWA from other donors and sources and requires the State Department to prepare and provide a transition plan” for “providing assistance in the Middle East without direct or indirect funding to, or support from, UNRWA”
  • (NEW) Piling on Against UNRWA — The Report accompanying the bills piles on exuberantly against UNRWA: “…The Committee notes that UNRWA has been compromised by staff who have promoted incitement to violence, antisemitism, and the destruction of the State of Israel. The Committee is concerned by UNRWA’s relationship with Hamas and other terrorist organizations, including credible allegations that several UNRWA staff participated in the October 7, 2023 massacre that killed over 1,200 people, including American citizens, and was the worst attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust. Further, the Committee is concerned by the use of UNRWA facilities to shield Hamas infrastructure, such as the Hamas data center under UNRWA’s Gaza headquarters. The Committee notes allegations that significant numbers of UNRWA staff celebrated the October 7 massacre on social media and that hundreds of UNRWA staff, including school principals and senior UNRWA management, are also members of terrorist organizations that violently oppress the Palestinian people, including by using them as human shields. The Committee recognizes that the Palestinian people deserve better than to be subjected to UNRWA’s failure to promote peaceful coexistence with the State of Israel.”
  • (NEW) De-funding [and for all intents and purposes pulling the US out of] the UN and certain UN agencies: The Report accompanying the bill states: “The Committee recommendation does not include funding for assessed contributions for certain United Nations agencies and other international organizations, including the United Nations regular budget. The Committee also prohibits funds to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The Committee remains concerned with the continued lack of progress toward meaningful reforms at the United Nations that, at a minimum, should include increased fiscal transparency, meaningful consequences for sexual misconduct by United Nations officials and peacekeepers, protections for whistleblowers, combating antisemitism, and holding member states accountable for undermining international security and investigations into the origins of COVID–19. The Committee strongly condemns the United Nations General Assembly for undermining peace and security between the Israeli and Palestinian people by passing the ‘Status of Palestine in the United Nations’ resolution that provided the ‘State of Palestine’ almost all the rights and privileges as Member States. The Committee notes that the United Nations is not capable of living up to its charter that includes the purpose ‘to maintain international peace and security’. The Committee has concluded that further assessed contributions to the United Nations are not justified and increased scrutiny and oversight must predicate any consideration of a voluntary contribution to the United Nations or any United Nations agency…
  • (NEW) United Nations anti-Israel agenda: The Report states: “The Committee urges the Secretary of State to declare it is the policy of the United States to pursue the principled position to veto one-sided, anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations Security Council”
  • (NEW) United Nations voting practices: The Report states: 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 United Nations in relation to United States strategic interests.” [as a reminder, this is basically the policy then-US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley articulated in 2018]
  • (NEW) Annual report on anti-Israel bias: Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees describing instances of anti-Israel bias at the United Nations, including an identification of the agencies and entities where such bias has been demonstrated in the past, including those that appear under this heading in title I of House Report 116–444.

Targeting the ICC & ICJ

  • (NEW) De-funding the International Court of Justice (ICJ)—Part (n) states: “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act and prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs may be made available for a contribution, grant, or other payment to the International Court of Justice, notwithstanding any other provision of law.”
  • (NEW) De-funding the International Criminal Court (ICC)— Part (m) states: “None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act and prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs may be made available for a contribution, grant, or other payment to the International Criminal Court, notwithstanding any other provision of law.”
  • (NEW) Regarding the ICJ and ICC, the Report accompanying the bill notes: “The Committee strongly condemns and unequivocally rejects one-sided, politicized, anti-Israel activity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and International Court of Justice (ICJ) and prohibits funds provided in this and prior acts for such courts. The Committee directs the Secretary of State to prioritize diplomatic efforts to prevent any further efforts to weaponize the ICC and ICJ against Israel.”

Targeting Gaza/Palestinians in Gaza

  • (NEW) IG INVESTIGATIONS OF USG PARTNERS IN GAZA ASSISTANCE: Section 7069, Part (h) requires that the Inspectors General of the Department of State and USAID conduct investigations of their agencies implementing partners with respect to assistance in the West Bank and Gaza, or “entities that provide logistical support to implementing partners” [I’m pretty sure this is code for UNRWA] in order to determine if “allegations or reports that such entities have employed staff or contractors that are members of, or affiliated with, a United States designated terrorist organization or have participated in any terrorist act, including before, on, or after October 7, 2023, are credible, and, as appropriate, refer their investigative findings for potential criminal, civil, or administrative enforcement remedies.” [in effect a provision accusing US partner organizations of being in league with Hamas]
  • (NEW) [and underscoring that the racist, dehumanizing cruelty really is the point]—NO GAZA REFUGEES IN US: Section 7069, Part (i) states: None of the funds appropriated by this Act and prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs under the headings ‘Migration and Refugee Assistance’ and ‘United States Emergency Refugee and Migration Fund’ may be used to support the admission and resettlement into the United States of a foreign national from Gaza.”

Random stuff

  • (NEW) Targeting US Universities: During the Full Committee mark-up, a provision was added via en bloc amendment by Diaz-Balart (R-FL) barring any funding in the bill being made available to any U.S. university “that has failed to take administrative action against any student, staff member, or student group that commits acts of antisemitism while utilizing the facilities, grounds, or resources of said institution.”
  • (NEW) Targeting the Maldives: During the Full Committee mark-up, a provision was added via an amendment offered by Clyde (R-GA), barring funding to the Republic of the Maldives “until the Secretary of State determines that the Republic has revoked its ban on Israeli passport holders.”

Also see: House Appropriations Committee approves 2025 State Department funding bill [“The bill restricts funding to the U.N., UNRWA and other international bodies, as well as boosts funding for the U.S. antisemitism envoy”]  (Jewish Insider 6/14/24)

4. FY25 NDAA (House)

This week the House took up HR 8070 (Report), the “Servicemember Quality of Life Improvement and National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY25.” After 2 days of consideration of amendments on the floor, the bill was passed 6/14/24 by a vote of mostly party-line vote of 217-199 vote (6 Democrats votes “yes”, 3 Republicans voted “no”). The base bill (as always) includes far-reaching Israel/Middle East provisions, which were added to by numerous amendments. Notably, Democrats elected to allow almost all amendments (which were brought to the floor in “en bloc” packages”) to pass by voice votes, rather than demanding roll call votes. Action now moves to the Senate – stay tuned.

My full analysis/summary of the Middle East-related details of the FY25 SFOPS bill and the accompanying report is available here.

Also see:

5. Hearings & Markups

6/11/24: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a classified briefing (CLOSED TS/SCI) entitled, Policy Developments and Dynamics in the Middle East. Briefers were Deputy Assistant to the President and White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk, and Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor for Energy and Investment Amos Hochstein.

6/13/24: The House Committee on Ways and Means held yet another witch-hunt/kangaroo court hearing entitled, Hearing on the Crisis on Campus: Antisemitism, Radical Faculty, and the Failure of University Leadership. The witness line-up showcased a broad spectrum of views all of which are in total agreement with the title of the hearing: Shai Davidai, Professor at Columbia University (testimony); Ted Deutch, CEO of the American Jewish Committee (testimony); Talia Dror, Student at Cornell University (testimony – back again after testifying at this same committee on a similar topic late last year); Ken Marcus, Brandeis Center (testimony); and Jonathan Pidluzny, America First Policy Institute (testimony).  Also see: hearing video; Chairman Smith Opening Statement – Hearing on the Crisis on Campus: Antisemitism, Radical Faculty, and the Failure of University Leadership; AJC press release – AJC CEO Ted Deutch Tells Congress: Antisemitism Cannot Be Normalized on College Campuses; University tax-exempt status under threat after semester of campus antisemitism (Washington Examiner 6/13/24)

6/18/24: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism will hold a hearing entitled, FY 2025 Budget Request for the Middle East and North Africa. Witnesses will be Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf and Deputy Assistant USAID Administrator, Bureau for the Middle East Jeanne Pryor.

6. Israel/Palestine in 2024 Politics/Elex

General analysis/News

New York


  • Jewish Telegraphic Agency 6/10/24: One of the most Jewish elections in the country is in Northern Virginia [“Eileen Filler-Corn was the first Jewish speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. State lawmaker Dan Helmer is the son of an Israeli father and the descendant of Holocaust survivors… In addition to the invocations of Jewish identity in the race, pro-Israel money has poured into Filler-Corn’s campaign. Her backers cite her leadership in passing into law a popular yet contentious definition of antisemitism, a bill that Helmer opposed. In public appearances, both have been vocal in backing Israel in its war with Hamas.”]


  • Jewish News Syndicate 6/11/24: RJC endorses Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole [“‘Tom Cole played an indispensable role in passing the Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act—the bill to provide $14 billion in emergency aid for Israel’s self-defense war in Gaza,’ Norm Coleman and Matt Brooks, national chairman and CEO, respectively, of the RJC said in a statement on Monday. The RJC heads described Cole as a leader in “the difficult fight to compel the Biden administration to deliver the promised aid. When Biden announced his weapons embargo against Israel, Cole spoke out strongly, calling on Biden to ‘stop appeasing terrorists and stand with Israel.’”]


7. Selected Media & Press releases/Statements

[NOTE: A huge number of members of Congress posted on social media or issues press releases praising the IDF operation that rescued 4 Israeli hostages in Gaza. Very few acknowledged or expressed any concern for the fact that this mission killed nearly 300 Palestinians and injured many hundreds more – indeed, some explicitly blamed every single Palestinian in Gaza for their own deaths/injury, by blaming every single one of them for the taking/holding of the Israeli hostages. If you want to see what individual members said, check out their accounts on X, FB, etc…]

Oct 7/Israel’s War on Gaza

Targeting the ICC

  • Responsible Statecraft 6/14/24: GOP trying to drive wedge between Dems with Israel votes  – Excerpt – “Republicans in Congress are threatening to obstruct committee legislative activity if the Senate does not vote on a bill sanctioning the International Criminal Court that passed the House last week. Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Tuesday that he would not sign off on any legislation or nominations in the committee until Democrats agreed to take up the legislation, either in the SFRC or through a floor vote. It is the latest in a series of efforts from the GOP to force Israel-related votes in an attempt to drive a wedge between Democrats.”
  • Cruz (R-TX) 6/11/24: Sen. Cruz, Colleagues, Applaud House Effort to Sanction ICC After Actions Against Israel

The Battle Around Antisemitism & Criticism of Israel/Zionism

Bibi Speech to Congress