The Jerusalem Post and Washington Post report that the House Foreign Relations Committee passed a modified version of Palestinian Anti-Terrorism bill (HR 697) in a 36-2 vote. While President Bush seems to have won significant easing of the restrictions on U.S. aid to the Palestinians and preserved some presidential flexibility in its disbursement, there are several ridiculously punitive measures that remain in the version passed. Here’s how the Post described both the modifications in the bill and the punitive measures that remain:
The new bill allows the president to use his waver authority in order to approve direct assistance to the PA, and is not as tough as the original version on supplying the Palestinians with humanitarian assistance.
The version approved by the committee enabled the US to provide aid to the Palestinians through non-governmental organizations for causes of health, water improvement and food supplies.
In addition, the US may transfer money to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for purposes of elections, or for his personal security.
The bill includes diplomatic limitations as well, including the closure of PLO offices in Washington, and the restriction of PA representatives’ movement to within 40 km of New York.
So let us understand this…the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism bill designed to punish Hamas for its support for terror is punishing the PLO under Mahmoud Abbas who denounces Palestinian terror every chance he gets. I’ve read no account of this bill in any media source which mentioned that the bill was designed to punish any Palestinian entity other than Hamas. Yet somehow the PLO has become a terrorist group in the eyes of Aipac’s grand lobbying wizards and their legislative agents in Congress.
You’ll notice that with the PLO banished from Washington, the halls of Congress and the White House; and with PLO diplomats limited to the UN Mission in New York, there can be no Palestinian presence in our nation’s capital whatsoever. They can’t even travel down from NY to DC because of the travel restriction. That, of course, leaves the field of battle with only Aipac standing. The group will no longer face any opposition from any Palestinian source. How convenient for Aipac! But how bad for maintaining a balanced and fair U.S. Mideast policy.
As Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer noted in more general terms in their controversial essay, Aipac has once again steamrollered its way toward a U.S. policy that allows Israel’s alleged interests to dominate our legislative agenda to the detriment of the Palestinians (and Israel’s long term interests as well).
My five year old son asked me what I was writing here and I explained to him that our government was passing a law that I thought would hurt people unfairly. He asked me how I would write that here. We agreed together that we could say: “I think that this law is bad.”