Oppose Anti-Palestinian Legislation, HR4681

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!

Click here to read more and send a letter to your members of Congress

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.

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7 thoughts on “Oppose Anti-Palestinian Legislation, HR4681

  1. It is perfectly acceptable for a country to isolate itself from leaders it dislikes, however they came into power. Hamas is a terrorist organization. They may have built the occasional hospital; I don’t doubt that they care deeply about the Palestinian people. But Hamas, which carried out waves of suicide bombings as recently as three years ago (a tactic they refuse to renounce), which sports a constitution which reads like an anti-semitic Dan Brown on hallucinogens; Hamas, which has the stated goal of destroying the State of Israel, is not a legimate negotiating partner. And there is no reason that we should diplomatically pretend that there has been no change. And there is no reason we should fill the coffers of such an organization.

  2. There’s no reason why we should continue to fund Israel, a country that repeatedly thumbs its nose at the U.S. government by continuing to build Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

  3. How can the US be an honest broker of peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians when it provides Israel with direct financial and military aid upwards of $3 billion every year, and it refuses to give the Palestinians who are in much dire need for aid a fraction of that?

    How can the world stand by and concede the role of peace brokerage in the Middle East to the US when they all stand witness to the US’s silence over Israel’s continuous crimes against the Palestinians?

    Currently, Israel is the one who occupies the other’s land. Not the other way around.

    Currently, Israel is the world recognized state with a GDP per capita comparable of most developed countries. While Palestine is not even recognized as a country, doesn’t receive a fraction of the foreign aid Israel does, and most of its people live on a disected piece of land, with shortage of food, water, jobs and basic health services all of which can be significantly improved by the simple act of stopping the occupation.

    As of September 2000, Israel’s regular and US funded army has killed 716 Palestinian children in the name of fighting the Palestinian terrorists who killed just a few over a hundred Israeli children, by what logic is that acceptable to the US? In total 3’842 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s army just since 2000.

    Today, Palestinians have conceded to the more capable and world recognized and WMD capable Israel the land that was taken from them prior to 1967, although not the right of return for the thousands of Palestinian families that were expelled from Palestine prior to 1948. Israel in return has given the Palestinians nothing but sonic booms from F-16 fighters at 3 in the morning over residential areas, 4170 destroyed homes, a concrete barrier through some schools’ play grounds and through Palestinian land, uprooted olive trees from Palestine sold to the rich people in Israel, and oh an overhyped offer at Camp David that was meant to be the final seal of legitimacy for their occupation of Palestine’s land.

    And to these US senators, the question of making sure Hamas doesn’t get those few pennies of American dollars now seems to be the most important issue on the Israeli Palestinian crisis agenda?

  4. Good points, Hamzeh.

    On Thursday the Jordan Times ran its best editorial yet, one which I wish were reprinted in every U.S. newspaper. I can’t find the link on the website any longer so I’m just going to re-type it here because it’s worth reading. I asks just the right questions. Here it is:

    And so it Continues

    Gaza Strip remains under a strangulating siege. Humanitarian supplies are barred access, goods are barred exit, and people can neither get to work nor find medicine.

    International organizations warn of a humanitarian disaster of Kosovo-like proportions.

    The UN warns that should the Palestinian Authority default on paying wages, the United Nations Works and Relief Agency, UNRWA, will be unable to meet the needs of poverty-stricken Palestinians. UNRWA, already underfunded, is stretched to the limits, and fears of international sanctions agains aid workers if they should try to help a Hamas-led PA are keeping them away.

    Meanwhile, on Monday, the Israeli army kills a 13-year-old boy and wounds two other children in Qalandiya refugee camp. A Fateh leader in Bethlehem is assassininated.

    On Tuesday, another Palestinian is killed by Israeli artillery fire on the northern Gaza Strip, that also wounds a mother and her 6-month-old baby. Later Tuesday, Israeli aircraft fire missles at the headquarters of the Palestinian president in Gaza City.

    No reason is given. And no reason is demanded.

    Israel now oficially has carte blanche to dispose as it wishes of Palestinian lives. Apart from a few desperate voices within the international aid community, the international community has washed its hands of the whole affair, leaving Palestinians to their fate at the hands of an ever more belligerent and violent Israeli army.

    And should the Palestinian government, led by Hamas, dare to protest, it is met with a stony and unfathomable demand to “renounce violence” and “recognize Israel.”

    Renounce violence? Is there any demand on Israel to do the same? No country maintains a military occupatio of another people without violence. Shouldn’t the cause be addressed?

    Recognize Israel? Which Israel? The Israel within 1967 armistice lines, armistice lines the US President himself has said were up for grabs, presumably to be grabbed by the strong party? The Israel that the new Kadima-led Israeli government vows to determine itself? The Israel that has engaged in a brutal and relentless campaign to steal as much land as possible and force out as many Palestinians as it can?

    Shouldn’t Israel recognize the Palestinians, their right to self-determination and statehood, and their claim to the occupied Palestinian territory? Would it be too much to ask?

    Apparently yes.

    The international community, led by the US and Britain, is guilty of complicity in Israeli crimes against Palestinians. Its apparent relief at being able to act “forcefully” as a result of Hamas winning fair and transparent elections only shows the bankruptcy of its policy vis-a-vis the conflict.

    And so it continues.

  5. Marcy,

    thanks for pointing me to that editorial. By the way here’s the link to it, I found it from google. [LINK]

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