The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has learned that the House International Relations Committee is likely to mark-up HR4681, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, in the near future. A mark-up session is when committee members offer and vote on amendments to legislation before it goes to the floor for a full vote.
The US Campaign has launched a national effort against HR4681, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, because it is not right for Congress to punish and isolate the Palestinian people for exercising their right to vote. See below for more background information and talking points on this resolution.
Despite the best efforts of AIPAC to push forward this resolution, it is faltering, according to news reports, due in part to your efforts to oppose it. Keep up the great work and TAKE ACTION TODAY!
Background & Talking Points on HR4681
Of the several anti-Palestinian resolutions introduced by Members of Congress in the aftermath of the Palestinian legislative election, the most far-reaching is H.R.4681, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) on February 1.
The central provision of this resolution would prohibit the United States from providing direct assistance to the PA unless the President certifies that it has fulfilled a long list of subjective and ambiguous conditions. Current law already prohibits the United States from providing direct assistance to the PA unless the President signs a national security waiver, and in fact the United States provides no direct assistance to the PA.
However, this resolution goes far beyond reiterating the current US ban on direct assistance to the PA; it also calls for many troubling provisions that would punish and isolate the Palestinian people for exercising their right to vote, including:
* Restricting humanitarian aid. Through its military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel has de-developed the Palestinian economy by destroying infrastructure and agricultural lands; by inhibiting the development of internal trade through walls, checkpoints, roadblocks, closures, and curfews; and by preventing external trade through border closings. US humanitarian assistance, overseen by USAID and implemented by certified non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), is not only essential to preventing the complete collapse of the Palestinian economy under these difficult conditions imposed by Israel; it is also morally necessary since the United States supports these Israeli policies through $3 billion of direct military and economic assistance every year. Even though it contains a waiver for certain humanitarian aid categories, this resolution threatens US assistance to NGO’s in Palestinian territories by putting it in the same category as aid to the PA.
* Designating Palestinian territory as a “terrorist sanctuary”. Under the terms of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, this designation would trigger restrictions on US exports to Palestinian territories, effectively gutting the free trade agreement between the United States and the West Bank and Gaza Strip and further crippling the Palestinian economy.
* Prohibiting official Palestinian diplomacy or representation in the United States. Restricting Palestinian diplomacy in the United States would be counter-productive to efforts to promote dialogue and a just peace, further eroding the claim of the United States to be an “honest broker”. This resolution would deny visas to PA representatives; restrict the movement of Palestinian diplomats at the UN; and shut down the PLO information office in Washington.
* Targeting the UN for supporting Palestinian human rights. The Palestinians have been denied their human rights through Israeli dispossession and military occupation. The United Nations has voted by overwhelming majorities to create bodies like the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People to advocate for the realization of unmet Palestinian human rights. This resolution seeks to defund these bodies by calling on the United States to withhold UN dues in proportion to the percentage of the UN budget that funds these bodies.
* Denying Palestinians the ability to receive assistance through international financial institutions. The World Bank has been working with the PA to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip since Israel’s unilateral “disengagement” from it in 2005. Funds are needed urgently to rebuild thousands of homes that Israel destroyed there. The reconstruction of the Gaza Strip could be in jeopardy if this bill is passed. It contains a provision instructing the United States, which has a controlling vote at the World Bank, to vote against such funding.
The United States says that it is committed to promoting democracy. If that is indeed the case, it is inappropriate for Members of Congress to advance legislation that would punish and isolate people through draconian economic and diplomatic measures when the result of an election is not to the liking of the United States.