WASHINGTON — The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) commended the passage of S. 2370, the 2006 Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act in the closing days of the 109th Congress.
“We commend the Congress,” said Morton A. Klein, National President of the ZOA, “for the recent House passage of the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act (PATA) of 2006. This bipartisan legislation, with wide support in both chambers, bans direct aid and contact with the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority until Hamas renounces violence, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, and agrees to abide by previous agreements. We applaud the sponsors for bringing this legislation forward and working diligently to see it passed.”
The ZOA worked closely with House and Senate sponsors throughout the legislative process to bring additional sponsors to the bill and build pressure on the leadership to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. The original House sponsor and chair of the Middle East Subcommittee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) spoke at the Annual ZOA Mission to Washington, praising ZOA for its efforts.
“Thanks to the ZOA, we have had a record season of passing legislation,” said Rep. Ros-Lehtinen. “Thanks to this organization, we got the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act.”
The Senate version of PATA, S. 2370, was approved by voice vote in the Senate in June, and passed Dec. 7, 2006 in the House by voice vote. A stricter version passed the House in May on a vote of 361-37. The House provisions included a section restricting funding to UN Palestinian programs, and placed more stringent reporting requirements on the State Department and offered a more limited waiver authority to the President. The Senate bill does not contain this language.
The Senate bill does contain a formal ban on U.S. aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, allowing only limited U.S. assistance to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. It allows for humanitarian assistance on a restricted case-by-case basis. The legislation clearly requires that the Hamas-run government ends its support for terrorism and recognizes Israel’s right to exist before the U.S. will consider Hamas an appropriate negotiating entity.
The final bill was sent to the President for his signature on Dec. 11.
Hamas is a terrorist organization that rejects wholly any moderation of its stated goal of destroying Israel. Ceasefire agreements brokered recently by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did little to stop rockets fired by Gaza-based terrorists striking nearby Israeli communities. Hamas members were also involved in the June cross border raid on an Israeli base on the Gaza Strip, kidnapping Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit and killing two other Israeli soldiers.
“Hamas remains a clear and open enemy to Israel,” said Murray Tenenbaum, Director of Government Relations for the ZOA, “and remains opposed to any real peace in the region. We commend the bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate for their recognition and repudiation of the clear role Hamas plays in perpetuating violence. We salute the persistent efforts of Israel’s friends in Congress to ensure passage of this important bill. ZOA particularly recognizes the House and Senate sponsors of the legislation, Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Joe Biden (D-DE).”