(July 24, 2019 / JNS) In addition to passing a bill condemning the anti-Israel BDS movement, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two other bills, one seeking to enhance the U.S.-Israel relationship and another bill to sanction foreign persons, agencies and governments that assist Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) or their affiliates.
Known as the U.S.-Israel Cooperation Enhancement and Regional Security Act, the bill strives to improve bilateral security and economic ties between the two countries, including the annual $3.3 billion in security assistance and $500 million in U.S.-Israel missile-defense initiatives. Introduced by Reps. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), it had 288 co-sponsors: 147 Republicans and 141 Democrats and passed by a voice vote.
The other legislation, known as the Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act, slaps financial penalties on foreign persons, agencies and governments that assist Hamas, PIJ or their affiliates; Hamas and PIJ are U.S.-designated terrorist groups.
This bill was introduced in March by Reps. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who is the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. The bill, which also passed by a voice vote, had 44 co-sponsors: 34 Republicans and 10 Democrats.
Mast explained that “following my service in the Army, I chose to volunteer alongside the Israeli Defense Forces because our countries share the common ideals of freedom, democracy and mutual respect for all people. Hamas preaches destruction to Israel and death to the values we hold dear in the United States. The United States must not tolerate anybody who provides support to these radical Islamic terrorists.”
Gottheimer said “the terrorist group Hamas is well-known for firing rockets and digging terror tunnels into Israel, and using Gazans, including women and children, as human shields. It is critical that the United States and our allies continue to isolate Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad by cutting them off at the source.”
“I am a firm believer in a two-state solution, but a Palestinian state will never be born from terror,” said Engel. “The rockets [that have rained] down on Tel Aviv are only the latest reminder that Hamas has no interest in peace.”
He added that the legislation “sends an important message that terrorism only denigrates the Palestinian cause and sets back the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.”
Zionist Organization of America president Mort Klein emailed JNS that U.S.-Israel cooperation bill “undoes some of the Obama administration’s deleterious restrictions on transfers of military assistance to Israel and includes a mechanism for obtaining justice for American victims of [Palestine Liberation Organization]/Palestinian Authority terrorism, including American victims whose proven, initially successful cases against the PLO/PA were wrongly dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction on appeal.”
Regarding Palestinian terrorism bill, Klein said that “sanctioning entities that enable Hamas and PIJ’s terror operations is an important step for helping to reduce those terror groups’ ability to pursue their genocidal goals and attacks on the Jewish people.”
StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein told JNS, “We welcome all bipartisan legislation in support of cooperation, security and peace in the region, along with opposition to hate and discrimination against Israel and the Jewish people.”
The two measures will be sent to the Senate.