Congressional Monitor

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VOL. 38

2008/09

No. 4
P. 185
Congressional Monitor
Congressional Monitor
FULL TEXT

 


CONGRESSIONAL MONITOR

 

THE 110TH CONGRESS, SECOND SESSION: JANUARY 2008–JANUARY 2009

 

COMPILED BY PAUL COSTIC AND BRIAN WOOD

 

The Congressional Monitor provides summaries of all relevant bills and resolutions (joint, concurrent, and simple) introduced during the previous session of Congress that mention, even briefly, either Palestine or Israel. Speeches are not included. The format of this Monitor provides an overview of U.S. legislation related to the Palestine issue and helps to identify the major themes of legislation, its initiators, their priorities, the range of their concerns, and their attitudes toward the regional actors. Material in this compilation is drawn from www.thomas.loc.gov, where readers can also find a detailed primer on the legislative process entitled “How Our Laws Are Made.”

 

The 110th Congress was in session from January 2007 to January 2009. The first session (4 January–31 December 2007) was covered in JPS 147 (pp. 173–88); the second session, covered in this issue, convened on 3 January 2008 and adjourned on 3 January 2009.

Despite the Democratic party’s dominance of both houses since the November 2006 elections, legislative trends on the Palestine issue remained unchanged. Vigorous support for Israel both militarily and rhetorically continued to be the main focus of legislation concerning Palestine and Israel. Other actors in the region were frequently addressed in the context of terrorism or of being a threat to Israel, indicative of the lens through which Congress views events in the region.

A total of 60 measures dealing with Palestine and/or Israel were introduced during the second session, as compared to 85 in the first. Proportional to the total number of measures introduced in both sessions, the percentage of relevant measures was almost identical (0.9% of the total in the first session and 1% in the second). Of the measures introduced this session, 20 (33%) passed, which is also comparable to the proportion of relevant measures passed in the first session (32%). In addition, 8 bills and resolutions acted on this session were introduced during the first session and carried over to the second after having been amended, passed, or otherwise moved further along in the legislative process.

Congressional measures fall into two broad categories: those that have the force of law if passed (bills and joint resolutions), and those that, if passed, merely state Congress’s views on a given issue (simple or concurrent resolutions). This being the case, bills and joint resolutions tend to be more substantive and consequential, often mandating that the U.S. government take certain actions (such as providing military aid to Israel) or prohibiting it from taking other actions (such as providing any money to the Palestinian Authority that could conceivably be used by the Hamas-led government in Gaza). Resolutions, by contrast, are nonbinding. Typically, resolutions “commemorate,” “celebrate,” “recognize,” “support,” or “condemn” persons or events, or “encourage,” “urge,” or “demand” others to take certain actions.

Of the 68 measures acted upon this session (60 introduced plus 8 carried over from the first session), 27 (including 6 carried over) were bills or joint resolutions that become law if passed. Of these 27, a full third (9, including 2 carried over from 2007) related to security assistance to Israel, making this the most common theme. Bills relating to the Holocaust constituted a close second, with a total of 7 (3 of which were introduced in the first session and carried over), including 3 to allow U.S. courts to hear cases brought by Holocaust survivors or their heirs seeking restitution from railroads that transported people to concentration camps (H.R. 3713 of 3/10/07 and S. 3462 of 10/9/08) or to recover unpaid Holocaust-era insurance policies (H.R. 1746 of 28/3/07); a fourth (S. 2007 of 12/5/08) sought to expedite the prosecution and extradition of surviving Nazi war criminals.  

Six bills specifically concerned terrorism and counterterrorism. These included a bill to prevent cigarette trafficking so as not to benefit Hamas, Hizballah, and al-Qa‘ida (H.R. 4081 of 5/11/07); a bill to rescind all U.S. assistance to Emory University’s Carter Center following the former president’s meeting with Hamas leader Khalid Mishal (H.R. 5816 of 16/4/08); and various bills targeting Iran and Syria. Most notable of these last is the Syria Accountability and Liberation Act (S. 2917 of 24/4/08 and its House companion measure, H.R. 2332 of 15/5/08), which for the first time contains clauses aimed at regime change. Several other bills alluded to the threats posed to Israel by Syrian and Iranian missile and nuclear programs (H.R. 5658 of 31/3/08 and H.R. 6178 of 4/6/08), and Iran’s influence in theWest Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon (S. 3288 of 18/7/08).

Five of the 27 bills and joint resolutions with potential force of law were passed this session (compared to 3 out of 34 acted upon in the first session). All 5 involved appropriations or funding for Israel. Two of these are annual defense spending authorization acts (H.R. 4986 of 16/1/08 and S. 3001 of 12/5/08) that authorize U.S. funding for Israeli missile defense systems. The other 3 all relate to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreed to by the United States and Israel on 16 August 2007, which details annual increases in U.S. military aid to Israel over the next 10 years: H.R. 7177 of 27/9/08 codifies into law the first yearly increase in U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance for Israel mandated by the MoU by authorizing the appropriation of these funds, and the remaining 2 contain measures appropriating funds to meet the yearly assistance level established by the MoU for FY2009 (H.R. 2638 of 8/6/07 and H.R. 2642 of 11/6/07). (In the first session of the 110th congress, 2 of the 3 bills that became law were funding bills, while the third was the Energy Independence and Security Act that incorporated the United States-Israel Energy Cooperation Act, which had been the top legislative priority of the American Jewish Committee for 2007.)

In addition to initiatives having the force of law, 41 simple or concurrent resolutions were acted on this session (39 introduced in the second session and 2 introduced in the first and carried over). Fourteen of these (over a third—34%—of the total acted upon) mention terrorism, especially to condemn specific acts. Five of the 7 resolutions mentioning Palestinians do so in the context of terrorism (e.g., condemning Palestinian rocket attacks, condemning Hamas, and urging PA Pres. Mahmud Abbas to abrogate articles of the “Fatah Constitution” that allegedly call for terrorism against Israel). Nine of the measures acted upon (21% of the total) invoke the Holocaust, especially to commemorate events, pay tribute to those who helped save Jews during the Holocaust, allow the use of the Capitol Rotunda for a Holocaust remembrance ceremony, and (more substantively) support the restitution of properties confiscated by the Nazis during World War II. A number of measures involved “incitement,” rhetoric, and the dissemination of anti-Semitic language. Indeed, a new emphasis on Arab media emerged this session, with three resolutions addressing the topic. Two resolutions targeted Hamas’s al-Aqsa TV and Hizballah’s al-Manar TV for their incitement to violence against Americans and urged the president to designate these stations “specially designated global terrorist” entities (H. Res. 1069 on 4/1/08 and H. Res. 1308 on 26/6/08), while a third condemned Arab governments for their censorship of the press in the Middle East and for publication of anti-Semitic speech (H. Res. 1127 on 22/4/08). Ten measures dealt with Iran, Syria, and/or Hizballah, especially as a threat to Israel and/or Lebanon, or as justification for increased U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Two resolutions in particular called for further sanctions against Iran (H. Con. Res. 362 of 22/5/08 and S. Res. 580 of 2/6/08). These 2 resolutions, and sanctions on Iran in general, were among the top legislative priorities of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for 2008. Only 4 measures dealt with the peace process: 2 recognizing the founding of Seeds of Peace; 1 recognizing NGOs that work for a just peace, and (most importantly) a resolution calling for Jewish refugee claims to be addressed alongside Palestinian claims in any peace negotiations. Finally, although the U.S. Constitution states that U.S. foreign policy is the sole responsibility of the president, a number of nonbinding measures urged foreign policy actions. These included urging the secretary of state to certify that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) does not provide funding or support to terrorists, urging the “expedient relocation” of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and imposing further sanctions on Iran (as mentioned above). Of the 41 simple or concurrent resolutions acted upon in the second session, 19 passed.

 

Key:

Con. Res. ——— Concurrent Resolution

H. J. Res.———House Joint Resolution (having the force of law)

H.R. ——— House Bill (having the force of law)

H. Res. ——— Simple House Resolution

PH/S ——— passed in House/Senate

S.———Senate Bill (having the force of law)

SA ——— Senate Amendment

S. J. Res.———Senate Joint Resolution (having the force of law)

S. Res. ——— Simple Senate Resolution

Voice vote: Vote taken verbally and therefore not recorded

Vote tally: Yay–Nay–Present

 

In terms of process, for a bill to become law it must be agreed to in identical form by the House and the Senate, and, in most cases, it must be signed by the president. A presidential veto can be overturned by a two-thirds majority in each chamber. If Congress is not in session, the president can veto a bill simply by not taking action for ten days after its presentation (this action is called a “pocket veto”). As already noted, simple or concurrent resolutions have no legal force if passed. Simple resolutions can be passed by either the House or the Senate, while both chambers must pass concurrent resolutions.

The measures acted upon during the 110th Congress are listed below in the order in which they were first introduced, but the brief description that follows applies to the measure as it stood at the time of the “last major action” before the end of the session. Until the Congress ends or the measure is passed or withdrawn, a measure remains “live” and can be amended repeatedly. Various versions of legislative initiatives are often in play simultaneously; different versions are reconciled in the final passage. For example, the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009, was originally introduced on 8/6/07 as the Dept. of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2008, but was substantially amended in both title and substance and not passed into law until 30/9/08.

The first 8 measures in the list below were introduced in the first session of the 110th Congress; measures introduced any time during the two sessions of a given Congress can be acted upon until the end of the second session. At the end of each Congress, the slate is wiped clean, and any measure that failed to pass, and that Congress wishes to consider, must be reintroduced in the next Congress. Measures marked with an asterisk (*) were introduced in the 109th Congress and subsequently reintroduced in the 110th Congress after failing to pass in the 109th.

Where measures are similar or nearly identical, a “see also” entry has been added. To reduce space, descriptions are frequently omitted if the text is similar or identical to that of another measure mentioned in this monitor. In these cases, the related measure containing the description is listed in boldface.

 

*16 February 2007: Recognizing [Jewish] refugee populations in the Middle East

H. Res. 185, Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), 40 cosponsors.

Declares that all refugee claims, including Jewish claims, must be addressed in any peace agreement in the region. Encourages all U.S. representatives, when in fora dealing with refugee issues, to insert Jewish refugee claims after any mention of Palestinian refugee claims.

See also: companion measure S. Res. 85 of 16/2/07 in JPS 147.

Last major action: 1/4/08 passed in House by voice vote.

 

28 March 2007: Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act of 2008

H.R. 1746, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), 44 cosponsors.

Originally titled the “Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act of 2007” (see H.R. 1746 of 28/3/07 in JPS 147 for details on the original version of the bill), this act was amended by the House Committee on Financial Services as detailed in its report (110-820). Requires insurers, after receiving a written inquiry from a potential beneficiary of a Holocaust-era policy, to provide any information relating to the policy and to disclose whether or not the person inquiring qualifies for unpaid funds. This same information must also be provided to the New York Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO) which monitors insurers’ compliance with the act and reports any noncompliance to the Secretary of the Treasury, who will impose fines of $5,000 per day and/or attach liens on U.S. subsidiaries of foreign insurance companies until they comply. Any outstanding insurance claims will be eligible for litigation in U.S. courts for ten years after the bill’s enactment.

Last major action: 3/10/08 House Committee on Judiciary granted an extension for further consideration ending not later than 3/1/09.

 

8 June 2007: Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009

H.R. 2638, David Price (D-NC), no cosponsors.

Originally titled the Dept. of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2008, this bill was passed by the House on 15/6/07 and the Senate on 26/7/07. In the process of resolving the differences between the two versions, the bill was amended to include regular FY2009 appropriations for the Depts. of Defense and Homeland Security, as well as Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.

With regard to Israel, appropriations for the Dept. of Defense include $177.237 m. for U.S.-Israeli cooperative programs for missile defense system procurement and development. Of this amount, $72.895 m. is for development and procurement of the Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense program (SRBMD, or “David’s Sling”); $74.342 m. is for the Arrow Missile Defense Program, including $13.076 m. for producing Arrow missile components in the United States and Israel; and $30 m. is for an “upper-tier component” to the Arrow system to enhance its capabilities. Both the Senate and House Armed Services Committees have identified the need for this enhancement of the Arrow’s capabilities to protect Israel from the threat posed by Iranian and Syrian ballistic missiles.

Division A of the bill, introduced in anticipation of a budget dispute with the Bush administration, is a continuing resolution which acts as a stop-gap measure to maintain funding for all other federal agencies and programs, including aid programs for Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and the Palestinian Authority, at FY2008 levels (as provided under the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, FY2008; see H.R. 2764 of 18/6/07 in JPS 147 for details) until regular appropriations for FY2009 can be passed or until 6/3/09, whichever comes first.

For Israel, appropriations under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) account for FY2008 reached $2.38 b. (after adjustments within the Omnibus bill), so the continuing resolution ensures aid at the same level for FY2009. Section 165 of the resolution permits Israel to use $670.65 m. of the $2.38 b. total to procure defense-related articles in Israel, an increase of nearly $40 m. over FY2008’s $631.2. With bridge funds provided by the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 (see H.R. 2642 of 11/6/07 below), total U.S. FMF assistance to Israel for FY2009 was raised to $2.55 b. The increase in funds Israel may spend domestically restores the usual percentage of 26.3% relative to total U.S. aid to Israel for FY2009.

See also: related measures H.R. 2642 of 11/6/07, H.R. 2764 of 18/6/07 (JPS 147) for FY2008 appropriations; S. 3288 of 18/7/08 for FY2009 appropriations; and H.R. 5916 of 29/4/08 and H.R. 7177 of 27/9/08 for further action on the MoU.

Last major action: 30/9/08 became public law 110-329 (24/9/08 PH 370–58–1; 27/9/08 PS 78–12).

 

11 June 2007: Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008

H.R. 2642, Chet Edwards (D-TX), no cosponsors.

First introduced as the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, the bill was later (May 2008) amended to take into account President Bush’s request for supplemental funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Dept. of State and Foreign Operations, and various domestic programs for FY2008. The bill also includes the president’s request for bridge funds for FY2009.

Specifically with regard to Israel, the bill appropriates $170 m. in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grants, which are allocated by the State Dept., to be disbursed prior to 1/11/08 as supplemental funding for FY2009. The amount of the supplement was determined by provisions of the MoU signed by the U.S. and Israeli governments on 16 August 2007, which established U.S. military assistance to Israel from FY2009–FY2018 at $30 b. over 10 years. Anticipating the passage of a continuing resolution that would establish funding for Israel at the FY2008 level of $2.38 b (the anticipated continuing resolution ultimately became part of H.R. 2638 of 8/6/07; see above), the bill appropriated the additional $170 m. so that the total FMF granted to Israel in FY2009 would reach the $2.55 b. set for that year by the MoU. The bill also includes funding in FY2008 for the Palestinian Authority as follows:

Economic Support Funds (ESF): $171 m. for FY2008 supplemental and $150 m. for a “bridge fund” to be applied at the end of FY2008 as a FY2009 supplemental (1/10/08 through 30/9/09). None of this money can be sent via cash transfer, the customary procedure in transferring ESF funds, which are generally considered as budgetary support for foreign governments. (It should be noted that with regard to Israel, ESF, which Congress since 1998 had decreased by $120 m. per year, was suspended entirely as of FY2008.)

International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INCLE): $75 m. for security assistance ($25 m. for FY2008 supplemental and $50 m. for FY2009 supplemental). The bill requires the secy. of state to submit a report within 90 days of the bill’s passage describing the training and related support provided to Palestinian security forces, an assessment of the performance of forces after training, and a description of assistance pledged and provided by other countries to Palestinian security forces. The secy. of state must also provide a report on the PA’s security strategy within 90 days of the bill’s passage.

See also: related measure H.R. 2638 of 8/6//07, and H.R. 1591 of 15/3/07 in JPS 147 for FY2007 supplemental appropriations; H.R. 5916 of 29/4/08 and H.R. 7177 of 27/9/08 for further action on the MoU.

Last major action: 30/6/08 became public law110-252 (19/6/08 PH 416–12; 26/6/08 PS 92–6).

 

2 August 2007: Providing U.S. assistance to construct the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland

H.R. 3320, Christopher Smith (R-NJ), 17 cosponsors.

The bill calls for appropriations of $5 m. toward implementation of the project.

See also: companion measure S. 2679 of 28/2/08.

Last major action: 19/5/08 placed on Senate legislative calendar (14/11/07 passed in House 407–13).

 

1 October 2007: Ensuring the neutrality of U.S. courts for claims against railroad companies involved in the Holocaust

H.R. 3713, Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), 5 cosponsors.

Seeks to grant original jurisdiction to U.S. district courts for civil lawsuits in any amount against any legally independent railroad company, particularly the Societ´e Nationale des Chemins de Fers Fran¸cais, brought by heirs or survivors on behalf of persons deported to Nazi concentration camps from 1/1/1942 through 31/12/1944. There is no statute of limitations on such lawsuits.

See also: companion measure S. 3462 of 10/9/08.

Last major action: 14/1/08 referred to House subcommittee.

 

*5 November 2007: Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act, 2007

H.R. 4081, Anthony Weiner (D-NY), 3 cosponsors.

This bill prevents tobacco smuggling and mandates collection of all tobacco taxes, on the grounds that “Hizbullah, Hamas, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist organizations have profited from trafficking in illegal cigarettes or counterfeit cigarette tax stamps.”

See also: companion measure S. 1027 of 29/3/07 in JPS 147.

Last major action: 2/10/08 placed on Senate legislative calendar (10/9/08 passed in House 379–12).

 

10 December 2007: Thanking member states of the International Tracing Service for ratifying the Bonn Accords leading to the opening of the Bad Arolsen Holocaust archives

H. Res. 854, Alcee Hastings (D-FL), 36 cosponsors.

See also: JPS 147 for companion measure S. Res. 404 of 12/13/07; similar measures H. Res. 240 of 13/3/07, S. Res. 141 of 10/4/07, and S. Res 142 of 10/4/07.

Last major action: 3/11/08 passed in House by voice vote.

 

16 January 2008: Dept. of Defense Authorization Act, FY2008

H.R. 4986, Ike Skelton (R-MO), 1 cosponsor.

The annual defense dept. authorization act is usually introduced and passed prior to the fiscal year being covered. Pres. George W. Bush vetoed the previous version of this FY2008 authorization bill at the close of the first session of the 110th (H.R. 1585 on 20/3/07) because it contained a provision allowing for U.S. lawsuits to be brought against the Iraqi government (this version allows the president to waive the provision’s application to Iraq). With regard to Israel, the bill maintains the same figures presented in H.R. 1585, authorizing a total of $135.572 m. for U.S.-Israeli cooperative missile defense systems. Of this amount, $37.383 m. is for producing Arrow missiles and their components in the United States and Israel; $10 m. is for the study and design of an additional missile system to expand the capabilities of Israel’s missile defense system; $27 m. is for Israel’s Short Range Missile Defense Program; $61.189 m. is undesignated within the limits of the Arrow system.

See also: similar measure H.R. 1585 of 20/3/07 (see JPS 147); related measures H.R. 5658 of 31/3/08 and S. 3001 of 12/5/08 for FY2009 authorizations.

Last major action: 28/1/08 became public law 110-181 (16/1/08 PH 369–46; 22/1/08 PS 91–3).

 

23 January 2008: Condemning the glorification of terrorism and the continuing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric at the United Nations

H. Res. 939, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), 35 cosponsors.

Last major action: 23/1/08 referred to House committee.

 

29 January 2008: Condemning the ongoing Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians

H. Res. 951, Scott Garrett (R-NJ), 265 cosponsors.

“Strongly condemns” Hamas and other “Palestinian terrorist organizations” and their state sponsors (Iran and Syria) for violations of human rights and the use of “innocent Palestinian civilians as human shields.” Expresses condolences to families of innocent victims on both sides, expresses support for Israel’s right to defend its citizens, and “expresses sympathy and support for innocent Palestinian civilians who reject all forms of terrorism and desire to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors, but who continue to be utilized as human shields by terrorist organizations.” Calls on the president to instruct the U.S. ambassador to the UN to introduce a similar resolution in the UN Security Council (UNSC), and “reaffirms the strong and unyielding friendship between Israel and the U.S.”

Last major action: 5/3/08 passed in House 404–1–4.

 

12 February 2008: Condemning Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s “hateful and anti-Semitic” statements on Israel and the Holocaust

S. Res. 449, Gordon Smith (R-OR), 14 cosponsors.

The resolution lists 17 statements attributed to Iranian Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from 26/10/05 to 30/1/08 and calls on all UN member states to condemn these statements.

See also: related measure H. Con. Res. 21 of 9/1/07 in JPS 147.

Last major action: 12/2/08 referred to Senate committee.

 

28 February 2008: Support for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews Act

S. 2679, Robert Menendez (D-NJ), 1 cosponsor.

See also: companion measure H.R. 3320 of 2/8/07.

Last major action: 28/2/08 referred to Senate committee.

 

4 March 2008: Permitting the use of the Capitol Rotunda for a ceremony commemorating the days of remembrance of Holocaust victims

H. Con. Res. 306, HenryWaxman (D-CA), 3 cosponsors.

See also: similar measure H. Con. Res. 66 of 15/2/07 in JPS 147.

Last major action: 11/3/08 passed in Senate by unanimous consent (10/3/08 passed in House without objection).

 

6 March 2008: Celebrating Greece’s independence, democracy, and excellent relations with Israel

H. Res. 1024, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), 35 cosponsors.

See also: companion measure S. Res. 476 of 7/3/08 and related measures S. Res. 95 of 6/3/07 and H. Res. 228 of 8/3/07 in JPS 147.

Last major action: 11/3/08 passed in House by voice vote.

 

7 March 2008: Celebrating Greece’s independence, democracy, and excellent relations with Israel

S. Res. 476, Arlen Spector (R-PA), 54 cosponsors.

See also: companion measure H. Res. 1024 of 6/3/08 and related measures S. Res. 95 of 6/3/07 and H. Res. 228 of 8/3/07 in JPS 147.

Last major action: 7/3/08 passed in Senate by unanimous consent.

 

14 March 2008: Expressing condolences to the families of those killed at Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem on 6 March 2008

H. Res. 1060, Anthony Weiner (D-NY), no cosponsors.

Last major action: 14/3/08 referred to House committee.

 

31 March 2008: Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for FY2009

H.R. 5658, Ike Skelton (D-MO), 1 cosponsor.

This is the House version of the annual bill to authorize funds for Defense Dept. programs, agencies, and accounts. While the bill itself does not address funding for Israel, the House Armed Services Committee report on the bill (110-652) specifies funding levels for U.S.-Israeli cooperative missile defense programs and makes pertinent recommendations and opinions, including that $54.8 m. should be authorized for continued development of “David’s Sling,” a short-range ballistic missile defense system jointly developed by the United States and Israel. While noting that Israel “faces a real and growing threat” from Syrian and Iranian ballistic missiles, the committee questions the necessity of developing a new anti-ballistic missile system to “engage ballistic missiles at longer ranges” as requested by Israel when existing U.S. missile technology could meet Israel’s needs. The report also urges Israel and the Dept. of Defense to review existing missile systems to determine the most cost-effective solution to Israeli missile defense needs, and to begin discussions about deploying an Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance (AN/TPY-2) missile defense radar to increase its defense capabilities against ballistic missile attacks. According to the committee report, reduced funding for the U.S. missile defense system planned for deployment in Europe sends a “terrible signal” to Israel and other key U.S. allies reliant on U.S. commitments to missile defense.

See also: companion measure S. 3001 of 12/5/08; related measure H.R. 1585 of 20/3/07 (JPS 147) and H.R. 4986 of 16/1/08 for FY2008 defense authorizations.

Last major action: 3/6/08 placed on Senate legislative calendar (22/5/08 PH 384–23).

 

1 April 2008: Condemning the broadcasting of incitement to violence against Americans and the United States in media based in the Middle East, calling for the designation of al-Aqsa TV as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) entity, and for other purposes

H. Res. 1069, Joseph Crowley (D-NY), 44 cosponsors.

Demands that Hamas immediately suspend all al-Aqsa TV programming that “incites hatred, violence, and anti-Semitism toward Israel,” recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce the use of violence and terrorism as political goals, and accept all past peace agreements with the State of Israel. Calls on all Arab states that own shares in Arabsat, particularly Saudi Arabia, to cease broadcasts by Palestinian (Hamas) al-Aqsa TV and Lebanon’s (Hizballah) al-Manar TV. Calls on Egypt, which owns Nilesat, to cease broadcasts by al-Rafidayn TV (Iraq) and al-Manar TV; calls on the owners of Eutelsat and the government of France (which legislates what may be broadcast on French-based satellites) to cease broadcasts by al-Aqsa TV. Urges the president to consider designating as SDGTs satellite providers that knowingly and willingly contract with stations designated as SDGTs to broadcast their channels, or to consider implementing other punitive measures against them. Calls on the president to take into consideration state sponsorship of anti-American incitement to violence when determining relations with, and assistance to, regional states. Urges all governments and private investors who in any way influence decisions about satellite transmissions to oppose transmissions of telecasts by al-Aqsa TV, al-Manar TV, al-Rafidayn TV, or any other “terrorist-owned and -operated” stations that broadcast “anti-American, anti- Western, anti-Israeli, and anti-Semitic” messages and “openly incite their audiences to commit acts of terrorism.”

See also: similar measure H. Res. 1308 of 26/6/08.

Last major action: 9/9/08 passed in House 409–1.

 

3 April 2008: Urging PA President Mahmud Abbas to abrogate certain articles of the “Fatah Constitution”

[*]

S. Res. 499, Arlen Spector (R-PA), 5 cosponsors.

The resolution specifies 10 articles that “call for Israel’s destruction and terrorism against Israel, oppose any political solution, and label Zionism as racism.”

See also: companion measure H. Res. 758 of 18/10/07 in JPS 147.

Last major action: 3/4/08 referred to Senate committee.

 

4 April 2008: Recognizing the 60th anniversary of the founding of the modern State of Israel and reaffirming the bonds of close friendship and cooperation between the United States and Israel

H. Con. Res. 322, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), 279 cosponsors.

Also states that “Israel is an outgrowth of the existence of the historic kingdom of Israel established in the Land of Israel 3,000 years ago, with the city of Jerusalem as its capital”; “recognizes . . . Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people.”

See also: companion measure S. Res. 522 of 17/4/08, and related measures H. Con. Res. 131 of 25/4/07 and S. Res. 175 of 26/4/07.

Last major action: 24/4/08 passed in Senate by unanimous consent (24/4/08 passed in House 417–0).

 

15 April 2008: Solemnly commemorating the 25th anniversary of the tragic April 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut

S. Res. 516, Richard Lugar (R-IN), 4 cosponsors.

Condemns the terrorist bombings on 13/4/83, 23/10/83, 20/9/84, and 15/1/08 but does not name any group.

See also: related measures H. Res. 1421 of 9/9/08 and H. Res. 1455 of 17/9/08.

Last major action: 15/4/08 passed in Senate by unanimous consent.

 

16 April 2008: Coordinated American Response to Extreme Radicals Act

H.R. 5816, Joseph Knollenberg (R-MI), 31 cosponsors.

Following former president Jimmy Carter’s Middle East tour and meeting with Hamas politburo chief Khalid Mishal, the resolution seeks to rescind all U.S. assistance appropriated in the State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill FY2008 for the Carter Center (division J of public law 110-161) and to make these funds available for programs for U.S. victims of terrorism instead.

See also: related measure H. Con. Res. 329 of 16/4/08.

Last major action: 16/4/08 referred to House committee.

 

16 April 2008: Expressing the sense of Congress that former presidents and high-ranking political figures should refrain from freelance diplomacy against the wishes of the current government and stated U.S. foreign policy

H. Con. Res. 329, Bill Shuster (R-PA), 13 cosponsors.

Cites disapproval for former president Carter’s trip to the Middle East to “investigate the current climate for future Israeli-Palestinian peace talks” and for “freelance diplomatic efforts,” specifically citing Carter’s meetings with Mishal in Damascus. Also condemns Hamas and expresses support for Israel and its security.

See also: related measure H.R. 5816 of 16/4/08.

Last major action: 16/4/08 referred to

House committee.

 

16 April 2008: Condemning Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization responsible for the murders of 26 U.S. citizens

H. Res. 1110, Mark Kirk (R-IL), 77 cosponsors.

Lists 12 separate incidents attributed to Hamas in which U.S. citizens were killed, including one on 31 July 2002. Condemns Hamas, demands it renounce terrorism, and defends Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas terrorism.

Last major action: 16/4/08 referred to House committee.

 

17 April 2008: Recognizing the 60th anniversary of the founding of the modern State of Israel and reaffirming the bonds of close friendship and cooperation between the United States and Israel

S. Res. 522, Harry Reid (D-NV), 99 cosponsors.

See also: companion measure H. Con. Res. 322 of 4/4/08, and related measures H. Con. Res. 131 of 25/4/07 and S. Res. 175 of 26/4/07 in JPS 147.

Last major action: 22/4/08 passed in Senate by unanimous consent.

 

17 April 2008: Prohibiting U.S. assistance to convene the 2009 UN Durban Review Conference

H.R. 5847, Scott Garrett (R-NJ), 29 cosponsors.

Seeks to prohibit U.S. assistance for a follow-up meeting to the 2001 UN World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance, which it cites as a platform for anti-Semitism.

See also: related measures H. J. Res. 84 of 14/5/09 and H. Res. 1361 of 22/7/08.

Last major action: 17/4/08 referred to House committee.

 

22 April 2008: Condemning the endemic restrictions on freedom of the press in the Middle East and government-supported anti-Semitic material in Arab media

H. Res. 1127, Gary Ackerman (D-NY), 35 cosponsors.

Deplores government press censorship through various means; expresses concern that some Arab governments involved in attempts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict are making it worse by publishing “insidious, incendiary, and poisonous speech” about Israel and Jews. Requests that the president consider the presence of anti-Semitic incitement in a country’s press as a factor in determining U.S. assistance; calls on U.S. allies in the region to “publicly repudiate purveyors of anti-Semitic incitement.”

Last major action: 18/6/08 passed in House by voice vote.

 

24 April 2008: Syria Accountability and Liberation Act

S. 2917, John Cornyn (R-TX), 2 cosponsors.

States that U.S. sanctions, controls, and regulations relating to Syria shall remain in effect until the president certifies that Syria has ceased support for terrorism; has dismantled biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons programs and committed to combating their proliferation; respects the boundaries and sovereignty of all neighboring countries; and upholds human rights and civil liberties. The bill also imposes specified trade, assistance, and military sanctions, as appropriate, on persons or countries that transfer goods or technology so as to contribute to Syria’s biological, chemical, nuclear, or advanced conventional weapons programs as well as specified sanctions aimed at Syria’s energy sector. Finally, the bill sets forth diplomatic measures intended to isolate the Syrian government, directs the president to provide assistance to support a democratic transition in Syria, and authorizes appropriations of “sums as may be necessary” to “support a transition to a freely elected, internationally recognized democratic government in Syria.”

See also: companion measure H.R. 2332 of 15/5/08.

Last major action: 24/4/08 referred to Senate committee.

 

24 April 2008: Limiting the Intrusive Miles of International Terrorist Sponsors Act (LIMITS Act of 2008)

H.R. 5886, Paul Broun (R-GA), 22 cosponsors.

 Directs the president to restrict the travel of officials and representatives of countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism (including Syria and Iran) to the UN complex on First Avenue between 42d and 48th streets in New York City. However, the bill authorizes presidential waivers of such restrictions on these individuals upon submission of a report to Congress explaining why it is in U.S. national interest to do so. Excluded from the restriction are travel to and from the designated areas to New York area airports, Bellevue Hospital Center, and hotel accommodations.

Last major action: 24/4/08 referred to House committee.

 

28 April 2008: Recognizing the 15th anniversary of the founding of Seeds of Peace

S. Res. 536, Susan Collins (R-ME), 10 cosponsors.

The U.S. organization’s goal is to promote understanding, reconciliation, acceptance, coexistence, and peace in the Middle East, South Asia, and other regions of conflict.

See also: companion measure H. Con. Res. 337 of 29/4/08.

Last major action: 28/4/08 passed in Senate by unanimous consent.

 

29 April 2008: Honoring Seeds of Peace on its 15th anniversary

H. Con. Res. 337, Thomas Allen (D-ME), 51 cosponsors.

See also: companion measure S. Res. 536 of 28/4/08.

Last major action: 18/6/08 passed in Senate (10/6/08 passed in House by voice vote).

 

29 April 2008: Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Reform Act, 2008

H.R. 5916, Howard Berman (D-CA), 4 cosponsors.

The bill implements reforms in how the U.S. designates military assistance to other countries. Part of the bill codifies in legislation the MoU signed between the U.S. and Israel on 16 August 2007 calling for a 10- year, $30 b. package of military assistance to Israel.

Title II of the bill, “Security Assistance and Related Support for Israel,” includes the following:

Section 201 requires the president to carry out an assessment, based on “empirical and qualitative” criteria, of the “extent to which Israel possesses a qualitative military edge [QME] over military threats to Israel.” Arms sales to other countries in the Middle East will be conditioned on whether they undermine Israel’s QME based on these criteria. The report must be submitted to the appropriate congressional committees within 180 days of the bill’s passage and every four years thereafter.

Section 202 requires the president to submit a report to Congress containing a “complete, unedited, and unredacted copy” of every U.S. assurance to Israel regarding its security and maintenance of its QME from 1 January 1975 until enactment of this bill. Additionally, the president must provide an analysis of whether or not each assurance has been fulfilled and how “it has been and is continuing to be fulfilled.” Any revision to these agreements or new assurance made to Israel must be reported to Congress within 15 days, and a comprehensive report regarding all assurances and revisions must be given to Congress every five years.

Section 203 extends through FY2010 the president’s authority to transfer to Israel, in exchange for “concessions negotiated by Secretary of Defense,” excess or obsolete weapons and munitions from regional U.S. stockpiles.

Section 204 authorizes FY2009 military aid to Israel under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) Program. The amount of aid is calculated as the amount of FMF grants appropriated for Israel in FY2008, plus $150 m. to be dispersed within 30 days of enactment of the relevant appropriations bill, or by 10/31/08, whichever occurs later. Of the total amount, Israel may use $670.65 m. for procurement of defense equipment and services, including research and development, in Israel.

Section 205 defines “qualitative military edge” as “the ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damages and casualties, through use of superior military means, possessed in sufficient quality, including weapons, command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that, in their technical characteristics, are superior in capability to those of such other individual or possible coalition of states or non-state actors.”

Additionally, the bill states that the goal of the State Dept.’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls will be to process applications to export items on the United States Munitions List (USML) to Israel within 30 days and other defense items within 15 days—the same expedited processing granted to NATO members. The bill requires the secy. of state to submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees detailing the average processing time of these applications by year-end 2010 and 2011 and allows the president to issue special licensing authorizations for the export to Israel of spare or replacement parts for defense items. It also allows the sale of the following to Israel without the statutory review periods (30 days for items on the USML and 15 days for other defense items): defense articles or services under $200 m., design or construction services under $300 m., and major defense equipment under $75 m. In effect, this will make possible expedited arms sales to Israel, although an informal review process will still be conducted by the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Relations.

Sections 201, 204, and 205 of this act were incorporated into H.R. 7177 of 27/9/08 (below) which became law.

See also: similar measure H.R. 7177 of 27/9/08; related measures H.R. 2638 of 8/6/07, H.R. 2642 of 11/6/07, S. 3288 of 18/7/08, and S. 3563 of 29/9/08.

Last major action: 19/5/08 referred to Senate committee (15/5/08 passed in House by voice vote).

 

12 May 2008: Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for FY2009 (originally titled Dept. of Defense Authorizations Act)

S. 3001, Carl Levin (D-MI), no cosponsors.

This is the annual bill that authorizes funding for the Dept. of Defense for the following year. With regard to Israel, it allocates for FY2009 a total of $177.2 m. for U.S.-Israeli cooperative development and procurement of missile defense systems, as follows: $44.9 m. (as requested by President Bush) to develop the Short Range Ballistic Missile Defense system (“David’s Sling”), $28 m. in additional funds to accelerate the system’s development, and $104.3 m. for the Arrow missile defense system. This last represents a $30-m. increase over the president’s original budget request for a “follow-on” to the Arrow system “more capable of protection against missiles with possible weapons of mass destruction warheads.” In its report (110-335), the Senate Committee on Armed Services specified that the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) use the additional $30 m. for a full evaluation of the potential of existing U.S. anti-ballistic missile systems for Israeli use as a follow-on to the Arrow—a reference to Israel’s stated desire to develop a new missile system, the Arrow-3, for this purpose. According to the report, developing the Arrow-3 “would be very expensive and would duplicate existing U.S. capabilities”; if Israel used existing U.S. technology, it stated, it “would be fully interoperable with deployed U.S. missile defense systems, which could reinforce and support the Israeli upper-tier system.” Nonetheless, the MDA decided—subsequent to the Senate report but before passage of the bill—to pursue development of the Arrow-3. The Joint Explanatory Statement, which reconciled differences between the House and Senate on the bill, stated that development of the Arrow-3 was “technically risky” and directed the Dept. of Defense to submit a report to Congress providing a plan for risk mitigation for the program. In the end, the additional $30 m. was authorized simply for the development of a follow-on system and not restricted to an MDA evaluation of alternative missile systems.

 

Relevant Senate amendments to S. 3001:

1) SA 5414, submitted 10/9/08, Jon Kyl (R-AZ), 5 cosponsors: Authorizes $89 m. for the “activation and deployment” of the AN/TPY-2 forward-based X-band radar (used in the U.S. ballistic missile defense system to detect, track, and counter incoming missiles) “to a classified location” not specified. Funding to be available only upon submission of a report by the secy. of defense detailing the location, operational parameters, and cost of the deployment. The report must also describe plans for protecting U.S. forces involved in the transfer and subsequent operation of the radar and the terms of the agreement between the U.S. and the host country. Approved in the Senate (10/9/08) by voice vote. Note: on 21/9/08 an AN/TPY-2 forward based X-band radar was delivered by the U.S. European Command to Nevatim Airbase in Israel (see “U.S. Deploys Radar, Troops to Israel” by Gayle S. Putrich in Defense News on 26/9/08 for details of the transfer).

2) SA 5451, submitted 11/9/08, Russell Feingold (D-WI), 1 cosponsor: Creates a 7-person commission, including two members representing the interests of Jewish refugees, to “review the United States Government’s refusal to allow Jewish and other refugees fleeing persecution or genocide in Europe entry to the United States” in the period from 9/1/1939 to 31/12/1945. This measure was ordered tabled and was not considered by the Senate.

See also: companion measure H.R. 5658 of 31/3/08; related measures H.R. 1585 of 20/3/07 in JPS 147 and H.R. 4986 of 16/1/08 for FY2008 defense authorizations.

Last major action: 14/10/08 became public law 110-417 (27/9/08 PS by unanimous consent; 24/9/08 PH 392–39).

 

12 May 2008: World War II War Crimes Accountability Act

S. 3007, Gordon Smith (R-OR), 7 cosponsors.

The bill seeks to hold surviving Nazi war criminals accountable for the war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity they committed during World War II by encouraging foreign governments to prosecute and extradite wanted criminals more efficiently. To this end, the bill requires the U.S. atty. general to consider a government’s record with regard to extraditing or prosecuting Nazi war crimes suspects when evaluating its application for participation in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, which permits nationals of given countries to travel to the United States for short stays without obtaining a visa.

See also: companion measure H.R. 6094 of 20/5/08.

Last major action: 12/5/08 referred to Senate committee.

 

14 May 2008: Expressing the commitment of Congress to continue to make it a priority to fight anti-Semitism and to promote tolerance at home and abroad

H. J. Res. 84, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), 16 cosponsors.

The joint resolution states that it shall be the policy of the United States when evaluating its relationship with any foreign government to take into account whether that government supports, actively or passively, anti-Semitism. It also bars U.S. assistance for the 2009 Durban Review Conference and calls on the UN to condemn anti-Semitic comments made in the UN, to hold accountable any UN official or employee who makes such a statement, and to develop programs to combat anti-Semitism, including Holocaust denial. Anti-Semitism is defined in the resolution as: “Holocaust denial or trivialization and denial of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination by claiming that the existence of the State of Israel is a manifestation of racism, requiring behavior of Israel not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation, using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism to characterize Israel or Israelis, or comparing Israeli policy with that of the Nazis.”

See also: related measure H.R. 5847 of 17/4/08 and H.R. 1361 of 22/7/08.

Last major action: 14/5/08 referred to House committee.

 

14 May 2008: Reaffirming the support of the House of Representatives for the legitimate, democratically elected government of Lebanon under Prime Minister Fuad Siniora

H. Res. 1194, Howard Berman (D-CA), 4 cosponsors.

In reference to the “coup” in Beirut staged by Hizballah and its allies and the clashes that ensued in Lebanon in May 2008.

See also: similar measure H. Res 1201 of 15/5/08 and related measure H. Res. 548 of 16/7/07 in JPS 147.

Last major action: 22/5/08 passed in House 410–10–2.

 

15 May 2008: Syria Accountability and Liberation Act

H.R. 2332, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), 167 cosponsors.

See also: companion measure S. 2917 of 24/4/08.

Last major action: 18/5/08 referred to House subcommittee.

 

15 May 2008: Expressing grave concern that the continued actions by Hizballah, Syria, and Iran will undermine the legitimate Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora

H. Res. 1201, Steve Israel (D-NY), 17 cosponsors.

The resolution also expresses grave concern about the systematic violation by these entities of UNSC Resolutions 1559, 1680, 1701, and 1747.

See also: similar measure H. Res. 1194 of 14/5/08, and related measure H. Res. 548 of 16/7/07 in JPS 147.

Last major action: 15/5/08 referred to House committee.

 

20 May 2008: World War II War Crimes Accountability Act

H.R. 6094, Steve Israel (D-NY), no cosponsors.

See also: companion measure S. 3077 of 12/5/08.

Last major action: 28/7/08 referred to House subcommittee.

 

22 May 2008: Commemorating Irena Sendler, whose bravery saved the lives of thousands during the Holocaust, and remembering her legacy of courage, selflessness, and hope

H. Con. Res. 361, Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), 66 cosponsors.

See also: companion resolution S. Con. Res. 69 of 29/7/08.

Last major action: 31/7/08 referred to Senate committee (30/7/08 passed in House by voice vote).

 

22 May 2008: Expressing the sense of Congress regarding the threat to international peace and stability in the Middle East and to the vital national security interests of the U.S. posed by Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and regional hegemony

H. Con. Res. 362, Gary Ackerman (D-NY), 280 cosponsors.

Cites Iran’s support for Hamas that enabled it to “illegally seize” authority in Gaza, and its support for Hizballah, which wages “war against the Government and people of Lebanon leading to its political domination of that country.” Notes that Iran has “repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel” and supports Shi‘a and anti-government figures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Calls on the president to initiate further sanctions against Iran.

See also: similar measure S. Res. 580 of 2/6/08, related measure S. Con. Res. 19 of 14/3/07 in JPS 147.

Last major action: 22/5/08 referred to House committee.

 

2 June 2008: Preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability

S. Res. 580, Evan Bayh (R-IN), 51 cosponsors.

Iran’s call for Israel’s elimination and the direct threat posed by Iranian missiles to Europe are among the reasons enumerated for opposing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. The resolution declares that preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is “a matter of the highest importance” to U.S. national security, but specifies the means as sanctions and diplomacy rather than resort to armed force against Iran.

See also: similar measure H. Con. Res. 362 of 22/5/08, related measure S. Con. Res. 19 of 14/3/07 in JPS 147.

Last major action: 2/6/08 referred to Senate committee.

 

3 June 2008: Encouraging the U.S. to sign the Oslo Declaration banning cluster munitions

S. J. Res. 37, Diane Feinstein (D-CA), 12 cosponsors.

The convention, agreed to (2/2007) in Norway by 111 countries (the U.S. did not participate), requires signatories to stop producing and using cluster munitions and to eliminate their stockpiles in 8 years. Declaring that the U.S. maintains 5.5 m. cluster bombs containing 728.5 m. submunitions with a 5–15% dud rate, the resolution recognizes U.S. law (public law 110-161) stating that cluster munitions can have no more than a 1% dud rate. The convention was to be signed 12/2008. Congressional action calling for the regulation of cluster munitions began after the war between Hizballah and Israel in 2006 during which the Israeli army fired cluster munitions containing 4 m. submunitions into southern Lebanon.

See also: companion measure H.J. Res. 91 of 5/6/08, and related measures S. 594 of 14/2/07, H.R. 1755 of 29/3/07, and H.R. 2764 of 18/6/07 in JPS 147.

Last major action: 3/6/08 referred to Senate committee.

 

4 June 2008: Security through Termination of Proliferation Act (STOP ACT)

H.R. 6178, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), 4 cosponsors.

Seeks to impose further sanctions on Iran, Syria, North Korea, and countries that aid them with nuclear technology or the transfer of advanced missile systems. Seeks to bar travel to the U.S. by any governmental official, significant shareholder, or corporate principal engaged in nuclear programs in these three countries.

See also: related measures H. Con. Res. 362 of 22/5/08 and S. Res. 580 of 2/6/08.

Last major action: 9/6/08 referred to House subcommittee.

 

5 June 2008: Urging the government of Iraq to recognize the right of Israel to exist and to establish diplomatic relations with it

H. Res. 1249, Alcee Hastings (D-FL), 59 cosponsors.

Expresses concern that the Iraqi government has not recognized Israel and calls on the U.S. administration to use its influence in Iraq to achieve both objectives. Reaffirms House support for Israel and its right to exist.

Last major action: 5/6/08 referred to House committee.

 

5 June 2008: Encouraging the United States to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions banning cluster munitions

H. J. Res. 91, James McGovern (D-MA), 7 cosponsors.

See also: companion measure S. J. Res. 37 of 3/6/08, and related measures S. 594 of 14/2/07, H.R. 1755 of 29/3/07, and H.R. 2764 of 18/6/07 in JPS 147.

Last major action: 5/6/08 referred to House committee.

 

6 June 2008: Honoring Dr. Feng Shan Ho, a man of great courage and humanity, who saved the lives of thousands of Austrian Jews between 1938 and 1940

S. Res. 588, Orrin Hatch (R-UT), 12 cosponsors.

Last major action: 6/6/08 passed in Senate by unanimous consent.

 

11 June 2008: Strongly supporting an immediate and just restitution of, or compensation for, property illegally confiscated during the last century by Nazi and Communist regimes

H. Con. Res. 371, Robert Wexler (D-FL), 32 cosponsors.

Targets Poland and Lithuania, which, “virtually alone among post-Communist countries, [have] failed to enact any legislation that provides for a process for the restitution of, or compensation for, private property seized and confiscated by the Nazi and communist regimes.” Refers to “private property” in Poland and “Jewish communal and religious property” in Lithuania. Calls on the secy. of state to report to Congress every six months on the progress made in implementing this resolution.

See also: companion measure S. Res. 603 of 26/6/08.

Last major action: 2/10/08 referred to Senate committee (23/9/08 passed in House by voice vote).

 

26 June 2008: Expressing the sense of the Senate on the restitution of, or compensation for, property seized during the Nazi and Communist eras

S. Res. 603, Bill Nelson (D-FL), 4 cosponsors.

See also: companion measure H. Con. Res. 371 of 11/6/08.

Last major action: 26/6/08 referred to Senate committee.

 

26 June 2008: Condemning the attack on the AMIA [Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association] Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in July 1994

H. Con. Res. 385, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), 30 cosponsors.

Urges all nations to make available for review by appropriate Argentine authorities all information, witnesses, and suspects (including current and former Iranian officials, Hizballah operatives, and Islamic militants) against whom an Argentine arrest warrant or an Interpol Red Notice has been issued.

See also: similar measure H. Con. Res. 188 of 18/7/07 in JPS 147.

Last major action: 16/7/08 referred to Senate committee (15/7/08 passed in House by voice vote).

 

26 June 2008: Condemning the broadcast of incitement to violence against Americans and the United States in media based in the Middle East

H. Res. 1308 Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), 24 cosponsors.

Condemns the TV stations al-Manar (Hizballah—Lebanon), al-Aqsa (Hamas—Gaza), al-Zawra (Iraq—the resolution says this channel is non-operational), 12 Iranian-owned TV stations, and several satellite carriers including Nilesat (Egypt). Also calls on the president to name al-Aqsa TV as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) as well as any satellite providers who willingly contract with known SDGTs.

See also: related measure H. Res. 1069 of 1/4/08.

Last major action: 26/6/08 referred to House committee.

 

18 July 2008: Dept. of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2009

S. 3288, Patrick Leahy (D-VT), no cosponsors.

The funding relating to Israel and Palestine in this bill falls under the following accounts:

Foreign Military Financing (FMF): Provides the same level of FMF grants for Israel as H.R. 2638 of 8/6/07.

Migration and Refugee Assistance: $30 m. to resettle refugees in Israel.

Economic Support Funds (ESF): Provides $75 m. for assistance to the West Bank and Gaza. This funding is restricted according to the terms laid out in H.R. 2764 of 18/6/07 in JPS 147, which stipulate, inter alia, that funds cannot go directly to the PA without meeting certain strict conditions and without a presidential waiver. Funds can also not go to PA employees in Gaza, to Hamas, to any Hamas-controlled entity, or to any “power-sharing government” with Hamas until Hamas accepts certain principles. Requires the secy. of state to conduct a yearly audit of all funds transferred to the PA.

International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE): The Senate Appropriations Committee details in its report (110-425) that $25 m. be made available for the West Bank and Gaza.

 

Other relevant provisions:

$20 m. is provided under the Democracy Fund for programs to counter Iranian influence in Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza. Under the Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR) account, U.S. funding of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is conditioned on Israel “not being denied its right to participate” in the activities of the IAEA. The bill requires the secy. of state to record the place of birth of a U.S. citizen born in Jerusalem as Israel on birth certificates, certification of nationality, or passports, if so requested. It also allows for commercial leasing of military equipment to Israel, makes available $345,000 to the Israeli Arab Scholarship Fund for Israeli Arabs to attend U.S. institutions of higher learning, and recommends consideration of funding for the First Regional Cooperative Program for Health to be conducted by the Hebrew University’s Kuvin Center and al-Quds University as well as for a proposal of the St. John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem to promote cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians and improve healthcare for the Palestinian people.

See also: related measures H.R. 2764 of 18/6/07 (JPS 147) for FY2008 appropriations, H.R. 2638 of 8/6/07 for FY2009 appropriations, H.R. 5916 of 29/4/08, and H.R. 7177 27/9/08.

Last major action: 18/7/08 placed on Senate legislative calendar.

 

22 July 2008: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should lead a high-level diplomatic effort to ensure that the Durban Review Conference serves as an appropriate forum

H. Res. 1361, Howard Berman (D-CA), 24 cosponsors.

Notably, the resolution seeks a forum to review implementation of commitments made at the 2001 Durban Conference to combat all forms of racism by defeating the campaign by some members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to divert the UN Durban Review Conference from reviewing problems in their own and other countries by attacking Israel, promoting anti-Semitism, and undermining the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

See also: related measure H.R. 5847 on 17/4/08 and H. J. Res. 84 of 14/6/08.

Last major action: 23/9/08 passed in House by voice vote.

 

23 July 2008: Recognizing nongovernmental organizations working to bring a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians

H. Res. 1369, Barbara Lee (D-CA), 35 cosponsors.

Also encourages NGOs to remain committed to nonviolence, recognition of Israel’s right to exist, and a two-state solution.

Last major action: 23/9/08 passed in House by voice vote.

 

29 July 2008: Commemorating Irena Sendler, whose bravery saved the lives of thousands during the Holocaust and remembering her legacy of courage, selflessness, and hope

S. Con. Res. 96, Barack Obama (D-IL), 1 cosponsor.

See also: companion resolution H. Con. Res. 361 of 22/5/08.

Last major action: 23/9/08 held at House desk (22/9/08 passed in Senate by unanimous consent).

 

31 July 2008: Expressing the grave concern of Congress regarding the continued gross violations of political, civil, and human rights of the Syrian people by the Syrian government

H. Res. 1398, Gary Ackerman (D-NY), no cosponsors.

The resolution also calls on the Syrian government immediately and unconditionally to release prisoners of conscience and other political prisoners. It also condemns the Syrian government for human rights abuses and calls on the president and secy. of state to address these abuses through the UN and to make human rights a priority in U.S.-Syria bilateral relations.

Last major action: 31/7/08 referred to House committee.

 

1 August 2008: Supporting efforts to advance U.S. international diplomacy and engagement to restore U.S. credibility abroad

H. Res. 1410, Gwen Moore (D-WI), 11 cosponsors.

Citing Israeli talks with Syria, Hizballah, and Hamas, the resolution recognizes that “diplomacy, engagement, and gaining international support will be critical to the success of American efforts, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to reach agreements on issues such as securing peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Last major action: 1/8/08 referred to House committee.

 

9 September 2008: Solemnly commemorating the 25th anniversary of the tragic October 1983 terrorist bombing of the U.S. Marine Corps Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, and remembering those who lost their lives and those who were injured

H. Res. 1421, Walter B. Jones, Jr. (R-NC), 44 cosponsors.

See also: similar measure H. Res. 1455 of 17/9/08 and related measure S. Res. 516 of 15/4/08.

Last major action: 25/9/08 passed in House 414–0.

 

10 September 2008: Ensuring the impartiality of U.S. courts for claims brought by U.S. citizens or others against railroad companies involved in the Holocaust

S. 3462, Charles Schumer (D-NY), 2 cosponsors.

Any railroad organized as a separate legal entity that engaged in the deportation of U.S. citizens and others to Nazi concentration camps on trains owned or operated by such railroad can be the subject of claims by their heirs and survivors.

See also: companion measure H.R. 3713 of 1/10/07.

Last major action: 10/9/08 referred to Senate committee.

 

15 September 2008: Recognizing the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, in 1938

H. Res. 1435, Paul Hodes (D-NH), 43 cosponsors.

Pays tribute to the Jewish people who were killed during the Holocaust, recommits the U.S. to vigilance against these kinds of atrocities, and urges the international community to fight against organized aggression directed at religious, ethnic, and other minority groups.

Last major action: 23/9/08 passed in House by voice vote.

 

17 September 2008: Commemorating the 25th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon

H. Res. 1455, Ray LaHood (R-IL), 4 cosponsors.

Cites the U.S. Marine Corps barracks bombing and two U.S. embassy bombings as terrorist attacks, but does not name any group as the responsible party. Lists three incidents in which Hizballah was “complicit in the abduction, torture, and murder of United States hostages from 1984 to 1991.”

See also: similar measure H. Res. 1421 of 9/9/08 and related measure S. Res. 516 of 15/4/08.

Last major action: 30/9/08 referred to House committee.

 

24 September 2008: Expressing the sense of Congress that the UN should take immediate steps to improve the transparency and accountability of UNRWA to ensure that it is not providing funding, employment, or other support to terrorists

H. Con. Res. 428, Steven Rothman (D-NJ), 9 cosponsors.

Urges the secy. of state to “take all necessary measures” to certify that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) operates in full compliance with the Foreign Assistance Act and that “no American taxpayer dollars are being directed to terrorists or to further terrorist propaganda.” Calls on UNRWA to publish online all educational materials used in UNRWA-administered schools. Urges UNRWA to implement screening procedures “that would help to ensure that UNRWA staff, volunteers, and beneficiaries are neither terrorists themselves, nor affiliated with known terrorist organizations.”

Last major action: 24/9/08 Referred to House committee.

 

24 September 2008: Security Assistance Act of 2008

S. 3563, Christopher Dodd (D-CT), no cosponsors.

Title I amends the Security Assistance Act of 2000 to authorize funds for the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program for FY2009 and FY2010, specifically authorizing increased FMF aid for Israel “in line with [the MoU of August 2007] to provide $30 billion of FMF to Israel over the next 10 years” according to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations report on the bill (110-496). Despite this stated intent, the bill maintains the language of previous bills, which increased FMF grants to Israel by $60 m. per year when, under the terms of the MoU, FMF grants should increase by $150 m. for FY2009 and $225 m. for FY2010. Consequently, only $2.46 b. in FMF is authorized for Israel for FY2009, which must be disbursed within 30 days of enactment of an appropriations bill or by 31/10/08, whichever occurs later. In each year thereafter, the funds authorized for Israel under the FMF account are to be increased by $60 m. over the amount authorized for the previous year. These levels of funding are authorized regardless of any amount provided in any other acts. Additionally, the bill states that of the FMF aid to Israel “not less than $2,550,000,000 for fiscal year 2009 and . . . fiscal year 2010 shall be available for the procurement in Israel of defense articles and defense services” despite only authorizing $2.46 b. and $2.5 b. respectively, per year, in aid. Section 514 amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 in order to limit the value of defense articles provided to Israel as “war reserve stocks” to $200 m. for FY2009 and 2010.

See also: related measures H.R. 5916 of 29/4/08 and H.R. 7177 of 27/9/08.

Last major action: 24/9/08 placed on Senate Legislative Calendar.

 

25 September 2008: Western Hemisphere Counterterrorism and Nonproliferation Act of 2008

H.R. 7068, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, 3 cosponsors.

This bill seeks to augment U.S. counterterrorism and nonproliferation efforts in Central and South America by redirecting funding to regional counterterror organizations, prohibiting nuclear cooperation with countries that participate in proliferation in the region, and by granting the president the power to impose sanctions on nations in the region that threaten U.S. national security interests. Among the findings of this bill are that Hizballah has been active in Central and South America. The bill cites as evidence a Lebanese national illegally entering the U.S. through Mexico who was described by a U.S. attorney as a “fighter, recruiter and fundraiser” and “charged with supporting Hizbullah financially”; the U.S. Treasury Dept.’s 2006 designation of 9 individuals and 2 entities as part of a network that is “a major financial artery to Hizbullah in Lebanon”; and the Treasury’s subsequent announcement of an effort to “target Hizbullah fundraising in the tri-border area of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.” Also cited was Interpol’s November 2007 issuance of red capture notices for the arrest of a Hizballah leader and 5 former senior Iranian officials charged by Argentina in the 1994 AMIA bombing.

Last major action: 25/9/08 referred to House committee.

 

25 September 2008: Urging the expedient relocation of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

H. Con. Res. 432, Doug Lamborn (R-CO), 4 cosponsors.

Reaffirms that Jerusalem “is and should continue to be the undivided capital of the State of Israel.” Calls on the president to implement the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 and encourages him to urge other governments to “immediately and unconditionally recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state” and to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. Urges the Dept. of State to expend no funding for the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv and the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem unless a proportionate amount is spent for the construction of a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

See also: JPS 147 for similar measures H.R. 895 of 7/2/07, S. J. Res 12 of 25/4/07, H. Con. Res. 131 of 25/4/07, H. Con. Res. 152 of 22/5/07, and H. Con. Res. 171 of 20/6/07; related measure H.R. 2764 of 18/6/07.

Last major action: 25/9/08 referred to House committee.

 

27 September 2008: Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2008

H.R. 7177, Howard Berman (D-CA), 1 cosponsor.

Title II of this bill incorporates the provisions of Title II of the Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Reform Act, 2008 (see H.R. 5916 on 29/4/08), which codifies as law the MoU signed by the United States and Israel in August 2007, which calls for yearly increases in U.S. Foreign Military Financing assistance provided to Israel for the next 10 years. Not incorporated in this bill, however, are H.R. 5916’s Section 202, which requires the president to issue reports to Congress detailing all past, present, and future U.S. commitments to the security of Israel; and Section 203, which extends for two years the president’s power to transfer “obsolete or surplus” weapons and munitions to Israel.

See also: similar measure H.R. 5916 of 29/4/08; and related measures H.R. 2638 of 8/6/07, H.R. 2642 of 11/6/07, S. 3288 of 18/7/08 and S. 3563 of 24/9/08.

Last major action: 15/10/08 became public law 110-429 (1/10/08 PS by unanimous consent; 27/9/08 PH by voice vote).

 

29 September 2008: Recognizing the threat that the spread of radical Islamist terrorism and Iranian adventurism in Africa poses to the United States, our allies, and our interests

H. Con. Res. 441, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), 5 cosponsors.

This resolution urges the United States to work with governments in Africa to improve counterterrorism efforts by helping African governments to create stronger antiterrorism legislation, and “creating more mechanisms for joint counterterrorism operations and intraregional information sharing.” Cites attacks in Kenya against the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel and an aircraft en route to Israel, and cites Hizballah as “key to Iran’s terrorism strategy,” becoming active in northern Nigeria, and developing “a sophisticated and deeply embedded financial infrastructure in a number of African countries.”

Last major action: 29/9/08 referred to House committee.

 




[*]

This resolution is comparable to a full-page ad placed by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) in the New York Times on 18/10/07, and, according to Americans for Peace Now, it resembled a resolution the ZOA submitted at a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations in the same period.