BACKGROUND: On February 14, President Bush formally submitted to Congress a request for $82 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations for FY2005 primarily to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On March 16, the House of Representatives passed HR 1268, its version of the requested emergency supplemental appropriation, and sent it to the Senate for consideration.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to mark up its version of the supplemental on April 6, and it is currently scheduled to go to the floor of the Senate for debate on April 11.
1) Support Palestinian humanitarian assistance: The House version of the emergency supplemental appropriations act includes $200 million for the Palestinians to fund home construction in Gaza, expand education opportunities, develop economic infrastructure, and help improve the social safety net. I strongly support this assistance to the Palestinian people to help offset some of the damage done to the Palestinian economy by Israel’s illegal military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem, which the US government has enabled with my tax dollars.
For more information, please see: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2005/41870.htm
2) No aid for Israeli checkpoints: If appropriated, the State Department will designate a portion of the $200 million earmarked for the Palestinians for “‘building bridges’ to help improve the flow of people and goods between Israel and the West Bank and Gaza.” I am concerned that these funds will solidify and entrench Israel’s system of illegal checkpoints in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including those associated with the illegal wall Israel is constructing in the West Bank.
To ensure that US assistance to the Palestinians is not misspent to maintain and deepen Israel’s military occupation, the Senate should add language to the supplemental request that reads: “No amount of this assistance may be obligated to Israel to support activities, including the maintenance or construction of barriers, checkpoints, transit terminals, or other obstacles to the freedom of movement of the Palestinian people, in the geographic areas that Israel has occupied militarily since or after June 5, 1967.”
3) No burdensome requirements on aid to the Palestinians: The House version of the emergency supplemental appropriations act contains burdensome reporting and accountability requirements on aid to the Palestinians, including a requirement that $5 million of the aid be spent on an independent audit, even though the aid will be administered by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Aid to the Palestinians should go for their humanitarian needs, not US accountants. I strongly urge you to remove superfluous and burdensome requirements on this aid.
Conditions on aid to the Palestinians highlight the hypocrisy of US aid to the Middle East. While the House imposes rigorous restrictions and conditions on aid to the Palestinians, it makes no mention of Israel’s flaunting of restrictions on US aid. Israel continually violates the US Arms Export Control Act by using US weapons in its offensive and illegal military occupation of Palestinian lands. Israel also violates the Foreign Assistance Act by building and expanding illegal settlements on Palestinian land, including the recent announcement that it will build 3,500 more houses in Ma’ale Adumim, already the largest Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
For more information, please see: http://www.peacenow.org/roundup.asp?rid=&cid=376
4) Remove the Real ID Act: The House version of the emergency supplemental appropriations act has tacked on to it the language of the Real ID Act (HR 418), an anti-immigrant, anti-civil rights bill that was passed by the House in February and is currently stuck in committee in the Senate.
In February, when the Real ID Act was passed, the US Campaign successfully advocated for the removal from the bill of direct references to the PLO as a terrorist organization whose members would be prohibited from entering the United States. However, the billreferenced similar language concerning the PLO from the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA). The INA has alwaysexplicitly included a diplomatic and security waiver,traditionally used by the White House and State Department to admit PLO officials to the US. As currently written, the Real ID Act does not reference this waiver.
The Senate should ensure that the Real ID Act, in its entirety, including any direct or indirect reference to barring members of the PLO from entering the United States, is left out of the Senate version of the supplemental during both committee review and floor consideration. Should the Senate have to conference with the House, Senators must remove the Real ID Act from the final supplemental. Further, should mention of the PLO remain in any part of the bill, it should include reference to the INA waiver traditionally used by the State Department.
ABOUT “WASHINGTON WEDNESDAY”:
The first Wednesday of each month, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and its member organizations distribute an action alert on US policy toward Israel/Palestine. Grassroots activists around the country, through our Congressional District Coordinator network, mobilize people in their Congressional districts to contact their Members of Congress. If you’d like to be involved in educating, organizing, and mobilizing people in your Congressional district to end US support for Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian lands, please fill out the brief form at: http://www.endtheoccupation.org/modinput4.php?modin=82