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Posts Tagged ‘Trent Franks’

Nita Lowey’s Leadership Moment in Israel and the Peace Process

Friday, June 6th, 2014

America grants the Palestinian Authority about $500 million annually. The fast-spinning money meter has already broken the $5 billion mark over the years. The annual financial infusion has been on autopilot as Israelis and Palestinians negotiated over the meters and metrics of a two-state solution. American money has been lavishly spent on Palestinians for one purpose: to encourage the peace process.

Recently something changed. The Palestinian Authority unified with Hamas, making it the largest, best organized, and best armed terrorist entity in the world. Hamas, long designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization, is well-known for showering Israeli civilians with rockets. Quickly dashing any hopes of change, Hamas did not disband its highly-armed and trained militias, vowed to never recognize Israel, and barred pursuing joint peace.

Newspapers have been filled with headlines recently about how Congress is preparing to defund the Palestinian Authority because various federal laws make continued cash infusions under present conditions illegal, and because further money would be antithetical to America’s pro-peace and anti-terrorism policy.

While many of the names of House and Senate leaders have been bandied about, most Congressional sources arguably agree that the most important lawmaker is Rep. Nita Lowey, the ranking Democrat from Westchester County, NY. Lowey sits on both the full Appropriations Committee and the key subcommittee governing State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. Foreign assistance begins and dies in this subcommittee. The Republican side of the aisle has been lining up staunchly against continuing funding and invoking the mandatory legal brakes. This includes subcommittee chairwoman Kay Granger from Dallas, who has asserted that unification “puts in jeopardy future U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority.”

The Obama Administration, however, has signaled it is ready to continue funding the new Hamas-infused Palestinian Authority.

Therefore, all eyes now fall on Lowey. For her, this is a leadership moment. Will she break with her party and the Administration?

Lowey’s personal and legislative feelings have been made abundantly clear. “At this point, the law is clear, their actions are clear, and the path forward is clear,” Rep. Nita Lowey (R-NY) told the JTA news service immediately after news of the Hamas union became known in late April.

On Monday, June 2, after the unification ceremony finished in Ramallah, Lowey issued this short warning: “I am deeply disappointed with the announcement today of a Palestinian government that includes the terrorist organization Hamas. As long as Hamas rejects the Quartet principles and the existence of the State of Israel, United States funding for this unity government is in jeopardy.”

Early June 4, 2014, a source close to Lowey confirmed her feelings remain unchanged. Indeed, within 10 seconds of asking, he emailed this reporter the relevant section of one of several key legal bars to continued funding. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, in Section 7020, Subsection F, entitled Prohibition to Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization, unambiguously declares: “None of the funds appropriated … may be obligated or expended for assistance to Hamas or any entity effectively controlled by Hamas, any power-sharing government of which Hamas is a member, or that results from an agreement with Hamas and over which Hamas exercises undue influence.”

The Lowey source explained, “The law is clear-cut, but what makes it complex is there are also important considerations – are we subjecting ourselves to more danger? For example, is there a particular security assistance program? Should we stop that? Or, is it smarter to keep some of those of those programs going?”

The staffer conceded the notion of a drastic cut with carve-outs for special security programs. However, the source added, “The Administration seems to be ‘all systems go’” in terms of unrestricted funding.

State Dept Embrace of PUG Won’t Be Group Hug

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

The official word from the State Department – the latest official word, anyway – is that the U.S. government intends to work with the newly-formed “Palestinian Unity Government” (PUG).  At least some U.S. legislators are expressing a very different opinion.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said at the daily briefing for reporters on Monday, the day the PUG was formed, that it would both continue to work with the new government and continue funding that government.

“At this point, it appears that President Abbas has formed an interim technocratic government that does not include ministers affiliated with Hamas,” Psaki told reporters.

“Moving forward, we will be judging this government by its actions. Based on what we know now, we intend to work with this government, but we’ll be watching closely to ensure that it upholds the principles that President Abbas reiterated today,” by which Psaki meant Abbas’s commitment to honor past peace deals and peace principles.

If that’s the standard the State Department intends to use, the only thing Hamas has to alter is its truthful approach. So long as the Hamas members are able to start saying in English that they support peace, it doesn’t matter what they actually do. That must be what Psaki meant.

However, senior legislative leaders were not quite so willing to buddy up with the new PUG.

Senior U.S. lawmakers said on Monday Washington should suspend aid to the new unity government until it is sure of the Islamist group’s commitment to pursuing peace with Israel, according to Reuters.

That would be because U.S. law currently prohibits this government from providing aid to “any entity effectively controlled by Hamas, any power-sharing government of which Hamas is a member, or that results from an agreement with Hamas and over which Hamas exercises undue influence.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called on world leaders to reject the PUG. Instead, one of the first phone calls he received about the PUG was from Secretary of State Kerry, stating that the U.S. intends to treat the PUG just as it has been treating the PA government under Abbas.

The Hamas Charter calls for all Muslims to “fight and kill the Jews,” and that all of historic Palestine belongs to Islam, as does any land ever conquered by Muslims (such as Spain). This is a religious, non-negotiable imperative.

Article 13 of the Hamas Charter specifically rejects the notion of peace negotiations, conferences or initiatives.

Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion. Its members have been fed on that. For the sake of hoisting the banner of Allah over their homeland they fight.

The only path for Hamas is jihad.

There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with.

The Hamas Charter also requires every Muslim to fight to liberate the land referred to as Palestine. In Article Twenty, the Charter refers to Jews as Nazis.

At least one member of the U.S. Congress issued a statement rejecting the idea of embracing the PUG.

On the same day that the PUG was formed, June 2, Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn, representative of Colorado’s fifth congressional district, released a statement. Lamborn had this to say about the new Palestinian unity government:

The United States must immediately suspend our aid to the Palestinian government following the creation of a unity government which includes the Hamas terror organization. This move would be in keeping with US law barring the transfer of US funds to a terror organization. To date, Hamas — which has carried out scores of suicide bombing against Israeli civilians resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Israelis — refuses to recognize Israel, renounce violence or accept past peace agreements. A facade of bureaucrats cannot hide the fact that this is a Palestinian government that supports terrorism.

Lamborn is one of the co-chairs of the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus. The other co-chairs are Cong. Brad Sherman (D)(CA-30), Cong. Eliot Engel (D)(NY-16), and Cong. Trent Franks (R)(AZ-8).

Bi-Partisan Call: Move US Embassy to J’slm, but Obama Renews Waiver

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

On Tuesday, June 4, a bi-partisan congressional call went out for the United States government to move its Embassy from Tel Aviv, to the capital of Israel, in Jerusalem.

The call went out from the congressional Israel Allies Caucus at an event marking Israel Reunification Day, the day in 1967 that Jerusalem was reunified as the result of Israel’s defeat of the Jordanian army.  Israel acquired the land by defeating Jordan which attacked Israel as part of the 1967 war, despite Israel’s repeated pleas to Jordan to stay out of the hostilities.

The Congressional Israel Allies Caucus is a bi-partisan pro-Israel body which is jointly headed by Democratic and Republican Congressmen alike, and includes dozens of Congressmen across the political spectrum.

“We strongly believe that Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of Israel with no waivers and no caveats,” said Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05), co-chair of the IAC.

“It is long overdue for the U.S. government to relocate our embassy to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem,” said Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman (CA-30). Sherman, who is Jewish, who became the co-chair of the IAC in late May.  He noted that the move was a “no brainer” because the location of the planned U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem is in a part of the city which has been under Israeli sovereignty since 1948.

“The deep commitment and friendship to the State of Israel transcend political differences,” said Republican Congressman Trent Franks (AZ-08).

The Capital Hill event marking Jerusalem’s reunification was marked by dozens of lawmakers all over the world, via simultaneous broadcasting in government centers in Israel and in Europe.

“We appreciate your tireless efforts to secure the future of Jerusalem and of the Jewish State,” said Noam Katz, from the Embassy of Israel in Washington.  “You are true and abiding friends who stand faithfully by our side.  Your continued friendship inspires and sustains us.”

On the same day as the bipartisan plea, President Obama once again sent his official memorandum to the secretary of state invoking the suspension of the 1995 U.S. law that requires this country to move the embassy to Jerusalem.  Obama, as has every president since the law was passed, both Democrats and Republicans, claimed that the embassy cannot be moved to Jerusalem because to do so would endanger the national security interests of the United States.

“I hereby determine that it is necessary, in order to protect the national security interests of the United States, to suspend for a period of 6 months the limitations set forth in sections 3(b) and 7(b) of the Act.”

But the rebuff by the U.S. president did not dampen the enthusiasm of the participants.

Newly installed Knesset member Dov Lipman flew in to Washington for the event.  He said, “Jerusalem is not just a place but an idea where we can unify people of all faiths and all backgrounds.”

“We have made Jerusalem a place where everyone can worship openly.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/bi-partisan-call-move-us-embassy-to-jslm-but-obama-renews-waiver/2013/06/05/

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