Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Congress Watch: House of Representatives Condemns and Threatens Palestinians

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Congress Watch: House of Representatives Condemns and Threatens Palestinians

Article excerpt

CONGRESS WATCH: House of Representatives Condemns and Threatens Palestinians

Shirl McArthur, a retired foreign service officer, is a consultant based in the Washington, DC area.

On Oct. 25 the House passed a non-binding resolution, largely symbolic because it has not been passed by the Senate, expressing its solidarity with Israel, condemning the Palestinian leadership for encouraging the violence and doing little to stop it, and urging the administration to use its veto power to prevent the U.N. Security Council from passing "unbalanced" resolutions concerning the violence in the Palestinian territories. Representatives Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) and Tom Lantos (D-CA) were the primary pushers of the resolution, but they were joined by several of Israel's other supporters to pass the resolution by a roll-call vote of 365-30, with 11 voting "present" (abstaining).

Representatives John Dingell (D-MI), Jim Moran (D-VA), Nick Rahall (D-WV), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) spoke out forcefully on the floor of the House against the bill. Rahall said that, rather than a resolution "that is rife with bias and prejudice against the Palestinian people," the House should be "urging both parties instead to return to the negotiating table and help them find their way back on a path toward peace." He pointed out that "this resolution only helps the extremes on both sides, those who never wanted the peace process to succeed in the first place." Rohrabacher stated, "America should be an even-handed peacemaker. Our goal should be a secure Israel living at peace with its neighbors; but...justice for the Palestinian people has to be part of the formula."

The 41 representatives who were smart enough to see that such a resolution in no way serves America's national interest, and brave enough to withstand the wrath of the Israel lobby, were, voting no: Reps. David Bonior (D-MI), Rick Boucher (D-VA), Bill Clay (D-MO), Eva Clayton (D-NC), Tom Coburn (R-OK), John Conyers (D-MI), Dingell, Chet Edwards (D-TX), Harold Ford (D-TN), Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), Bill Goodling (R-PA), Earl Hilliard (D-AL), John Hostettler (R-IN), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Matthew Martinez (D-CA), Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Jack Metcalf (R-WA), Jim Moran, Ron Paul (R-TX), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rahall, Rohrabacher, Mark Sanford (R-SC), Jose Serrano (D-NY), Pete Stark (D-CA), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), and Maxine Waters (D-CA).

Abstaining were Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH), Ray LaHood (R-IL), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Lynn Rivers (D-MI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tom Sawyer (D-OH), Vic Snyder (D-AR), John Sununu (R-NH), Karen Thurman (D-FL), and Melvin Watt (D-NC).

Meanwhile, in the Senate, 96 legislators signed an Oct. 12 letter to President William Clinton urging that he "express solidarity with Israel at this critical moment...condemn the Palestinian campaign of violence...and stand with Israel in international arenas." The letter concludes: "This is a very dangerous hour in the Middle East. America's open and abiding commitment to the security of Israel is the surest way to see our way safely through it." The four not signing the letter were Sens. Spencer Abraham (R-MI), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and Judd Gregg (R-NH).

Of the several bills introduced in the House and the Senate by Israel's sycophants threatening to cut off aid to a unilaterally declared Palestinian state, one, introduced by Gilman, was passed by the House on Sept. 26 by a roll-call vote of 385-27, with four voting "present." Like the resolution described above condemning the Palestinians, this bill was only symbolic because it has not been passed by the Senate. The 31 who either voted against the bill or abstained were, voting no: Reps. Bonior, Julia Carson (D-IN), Clay, Clayton, Conyers, Pat Danner (D-MO), Dingell, Hilliard, Jesse Jackson Jr., Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Lee, Jim McDermott (D-WA), McKinney, George Miller (D-CA), Moran, John Murtha (D-PA), David Obey (D-WI), Payne, Rahall, Martin Sabo (D-MN), Serrano, Stark, Sununu, Jim Traficant (D-OH), Waters, and Watt. …

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