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August 21, 2014 / 25 Av, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

House Spending Bill Restores Aid to Israel to $3.1 Billion

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Funding to Israel was restored to its pre-sequester level of $3.1 billion in the spending bill the U.S. House of Representatives passed on Wednesday. Aid to the Palestinian Authority was conditioned on its not running to the United Nations for recognition.

The $1.1 trillion bill passed Wednesday is the result of a deal brokered last month between Democrats and Republicans who have struggled for months to compromise on spending bills. It restores about half the cuts mandated by the sequestration, the across-the-board 8 percent cuts which by law kicked in last March when Congress failed to agree on a budget.

Also in the bill is $268.7 million in funding for U.S.-Israel cooperative anti-missile programs, not considered assistance because Israel contributes to the programs.

The bill also links the approximately $400 million the Palestinian Authority receives in annual assistance to programs against incitement, and cuts off aid to the Palestinians if the PA take further steps to secure statehood recognition at international bodies.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee praised the passage.

“These funds fully meet America’s commitment in the U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding, helping our democratic ally meet critical defense needs during this period of heightened regional instability,” it said in a statement.

The Senate is due to consider the spending bill later this week.

Rep. Jim Moran, Notorious for Repeated Clashes with Jews, Retires

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Virginia Democratic Rep. Jim Moran, a longtime congressman from northern Virginia who repeatedly clashed with pro-Israel and Jewish groups, is retiring.

Moran, 68, told media Wednesday that he would not run again in his district, which comprises Arlington, Falls Church and parts of Alexandria and Fairfax County, because it has become strongly Democratic, making his vacant seat safe for the Democratic Party. He was first elected to Congress in 1990.

Moran had repeated clashes with pro-Israel groups and with Jewish members of his Democratic caucus over claims he made in 2003 and 2007 that without Jewish support, the United States would not have launched the war with Iraq.

A blunt speaker who never got the hang of holding his tongue, he got into deeper trouble with his apology in 2003, when he seemed to accuse Jews of controlling who gets elected.

His district includes one of the fastest-growing Jewish populations in the Washington area, and in the 2002 election he solicited a letter from Jewish lawmakers praising his support for Israel.

A year later, after his claim at a town hall meeting that “If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this,” a number of the Jewish lawmakers who had signed the original letter repudiated him and said they would no longer support his election.

Referring to that repudiation and other calls for him to step down in an interview with a newspaper in which he also apologized for the original offensive remark, he said: “It’s unhealthy for the American political process for any group within our society to be able to decide who should and who shouldn’t represent a constituency.” That occasioned another round of condemnations.

His notoriety was such that in 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama welcomed Moran’s endorsement, which was routine – and simultaneously reassured the Jewish community that he disagreed with Moran on who was to blame for the Iraq War.

Whenever he was faced with such complaints, Moran would note that one of his daughters had converted to Judaism.

Report: Iran Balks over Centrifuges

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Iran is holding up progress for implementing the interim deal agreed to by world powers in November because of the issue of centrifuges that can be used to purify uranium to level that would make it suitable to make a nuclear weapon.

“This issue (centrifuges) was among the main factors in stopping the previous technical discussions on December 19-21,” a Western diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

That is exactly why there is a bi-partisan effort in Congress to pass a new bill that would place harsher sanctions on Iran if it reneges on the interim  agreement.

The sponsors of the bill, Democrats as well as Republicans, don’t trust Iran to have suddenly surrendered its nuclear program. President Barack Obama, who has put his weight behind “engaging” Iran diplomatically, has vowed to veto the bill if it is passed.

Iran said it has installed new and advanced centrifuges since the interim deal was reached, an issue that is to be discussed this week in meetings with the P5+1 countries.

“As part of the (November 24) agreement, Iran is permitted to engage in R&D (research and development), but that is tempered by the fact that it is prohibited to install new centrifuges, except as required by wear and tear,” one diplomats was quoted by Reuters as saying.

The interim deal is to be implemented on January 20 if Iran and the world powers can overcome disputes on the wording and meaning of the November agreement.

Reuters quoted an Israeli official as saying, “It was clear from the outset that the Iranians would play games. They did it in the past, and now they’re up to their old tricks again.”

Congressional Budget Deal Includes Funds for Iron Dome

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Chairmen of the Senate and House of Representatives budget committees have proposed a budget deal that would restore $220 million for two more Iron Dome anti-missile batteries only months after they were said to be victims of budget sequestration.

The proposed deal needs to be approved by houses of Congress before becoming law. The deal also adds $15 million for a US co-production capability for Iron Dome parts.

Kerry Plays ‘Blame Game’ to Urge Congress to Go Soft on Sanctions

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Congress on Tuesday that new sanctions against Iran would be “gratuitous” and could harm any agreement with Iran as well as relations with world powers in the P5+1 group.

Speaking to the House Foreign Affairs Committee before leaving for another trip to Israel and the Palestinian Authority and then to the Far East, Kerry was not able to promise Congressmen that a final agreement with Iran would prohibit it form enriching uranium,

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif warned earlier this week that if Congress legislates new sanctions the it would render null and void the recent interim deal with the P5+1, made up of permanent U.N. Security Council members  United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France, plus Germany.

Kerry argued that the lifting of some sanctions is only a drop in the bucket compared to sanctions that remain, but California Republican Rep. Ed Royce said, “We have bargained away our fundamental position.”

Rep. Engel Named Chairman of International Jewish Lawmakers’ Group

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

New York Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel has been appointed chairman of an umbrella body for Jewish lawmakers worldwide, succeeding Italy’s Fiamma Nirenstein, who recently made aliyah to Israel.

The steering committee of the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians named Engel, the senior Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, as its chairman this week during a meeting of the group in Washington.

“The work of the ICJP is important for Jews everywhere, and I am proud and honored to help lead and uphold its important mission,” Engel said in a statement.

The group, which is an initiative of the World Jewish Congress, passed resolutions on Iran and on anti-Semitism in Europe and Latin America. In the pipeline is a resolution on religious freedoms in Europe and a letter to President Obama calling for the commutation of the life sentence handed down 26 years ago to Jonathan Pollard, a spy for Israel.

 

Iran Owes Terror Victims Billions of Dollars, Says Activist Lawyer

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

An Israeli lawyer who has won billions of dollars for relatives of terror victims has asked Obama administration officials why they are discussing letting Iran off the hook on sanctions while it owes American relatives colossal sums of money.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, who heads the Israel Law Center, has won billions of dollars for relatives of terror victims in lawsuits against the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organization as well as banks and other agencies that aid terrorists or act as a pipeline for funds for them.

She wrote Under Secretary Wendy Sherman last month, “Iran must not be allowed under any circumstances to avoid making payment of reparations and due compensations to the families of those whose lives they have destroyed through terrorism…and through the terror organizations it supports: Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.”

In a blog posted this past week on The Hill website based in Washington, Darshan-Leitner noted that Sherman did not respond, and she added, “As a result of lawsuits taken by American victims of terror in U.S. courts, the Iranian regime currently owes billions of dollars from decades of terrorist activity resulting in dozens of victims and severed families. This debt has yet to be recognized or paid by the Iranian government with no sign of an intention to do so.”

She called on Congress to ensure that the U.S. government is working to keep the interests of the terror victims’ families on the table.

Darshan-Leitner pointed out that when George W. Bush was President, he conditioned repealing of any sanctions against Libya on payment of reparations to the victims of Libyan terror. “This move resulted in the payment of $1.5 billion dollars to the victims’ families,” she wrote.

On the other hand, Bush also removed North Korea from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism in 2008, without compensation being paid to American families, she added.

“We fear this lack of response not only portends a potential Iranian exemption from paying reparations and giving due compensation to families affected by terror in return for normalization of relations, but that it also signals a softening of Sherman’s position on the proliferation of terrorist activity and most significantly, creates difficult implications for the United States’ reputation as a pillar of justice in the war on terror,” according to Darshan-Leitner.

Her blog continued, “As lawyers for American, Canadian and Israeli victims of Iranian terror, we call on Congress to take action and place a check on Under Secretary Sherman in this current round of negotiations… We call on all members of Congress to ensure that victims of terror are not forgotten and to help make the Iranian regime provide the proper reparations and due compensation for the innocent lives taken at the hands of terrorist activities and not to gain a free pass in the name of diplomatic maneuverings.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/iran-owes-terror-victims-billions-of-dollars-says-activist-lawyer/2013/11/20/

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