House Passes Anti-Palestinian Legislation, Senate Fight Continues

The House of Representatives today passed a controversial bill (H.R. 4681) that would punish all Palestinians, not just members of Hamas, for electing a Hamas-led government in January’s legislative elections. The Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 passed the House under suspension of the rules by a vote of 361-37 (with 9 members voting “Present”), despite nearly four months of strong opposition from the Council for the National Interest and other national organizations, including Churches for Middle East Peace, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Americans for Peace Now, and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. The Bush Administration itself deemed the bill “unnecessary” in a memo outlining its opposition.

“With the passage through the House of H.R. 4681, which divided the Israel lobby because of its harshness, the fight now moves to the Senate, where S. 2370 remains in a state of suspended animation in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Obviously, the Israel lobby hoped to have a final bill in time for the appearance of Ehud Olmert at a joint session of Congress on Wednesday morning. The debate was rancorous. The Tuesday morning interview with Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) on C-SPAN was marked by a shouting match between Ackerman and the people who called in from all over the country. We hope that both Palestinian Americans and ordinary Americans will make their anger felt as the bill in the Senate is taken up,” said CNI President Eugene Bird.

In a three hour floor debate on Monday evening, several representatives came to the floor to express their opposition to the bill, including Democrats Earl Blumenauer (OR), Lois Capps (CA), John Dingell (MI), Maurice Hinchey (NY), Marcy Kaptur (OH), Dennis Kucinich (OH), Betty McCollum (MN), David Price (NC), Nick Rahall (WV) and Republican Ray LaHood (IL).

Introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) in February, H.R. 4681 would:

  • Strictly limit assistance provided to the Palestinian Authority and NGOs working in the West Bank and Gaza to aid necessary to meet “basic human health needs,” including food, water, medicine and sanitation services, unless the Palestinian Authority fulfills a long list of unrealistic and unachievable benchmarks.
  • Deduct a percentage from the U.S. annual dues to the United Nations that goes to standing committees that advocate for Palestinian human rights.
  • Deny visas to all members of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Legislative Council, including non-Hamas members of the PLC that support the peace process, reject violence, and recognize Israel.
  • Prohibit the Palestinian Authority or PLO from having representation in the United States, including the PLO information office in Washington and the Palestinian Permanent Observer Mission to the UN.

    Contact: Carlton Cobb, 202-863-2951, carlton@cnionline.org

    The Council for the National Interest is a non-profit, non-partisan grassroots organization founded seventeen years ago by former Congressmen Paul Findley (R-IL) and Pete McCloskey (R-CA) to advocate a new direction for U.S. Middle East policy. CNI seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values, protects our national interests, and contributes to a just solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as to restore a political environment in America in which voters and their elected officials are free from the undue influence and pressure of a foreign country, namely Israel.

    Related Links

  • BY TOPIC: Cutting Aid to Palestine
  • A Letter to AIPAC, Rep. Betty McCollum (23 May 2006)
  • Council for the National Interest