Contact your Representative now to express your support for and urge them to co-sponsor the United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act (H.R.2829), introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), which places conditions on U.S. funding to the UN in order to achieve long awaited reform at that body and to help ensure that US funding is directed only towards programs that further US interests (see Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s Miami Herald op-ed below). This bill:
· Opposes efforts by the Palestinian leadership to evade a negotiated settlement with Israel and undermine opportunities for peace by seeking de facto recognition of a Palestinian state by the UN (through gaining membership for “Palestine” in UN agencies or programs). Withholds U.S. contributions from any UN agency or program that upgrades the status of the PLO/Palestinian observer mission.
· Prohibits U.S. funding to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency), which aids Palestinian refugees, until that body: vets its staff and aid recipients through U.S. watch lists for ties to Foreign Terrorist Organizations; stops engaging in anti-Israel propaganda and politicized activities; improves its accountability and transparency; and stops banking with any financial institutions under U.S. designation for terror financing or money laundering. Despite failing to meet the requirements under U.S. law to obtain foreign assistance, UNRWA has received about $500 million in FY 2009 and 2010 alone. President Obama has requested over $230 million in further funding in 2012.
· Declares that it is U.S. policy to consider the Goldstone Report, which falsely accused Israel of deliberately attacking Palestinian civilians during Operation Cast Lead, to be irredeemably biased and unworthy of consideration, legitimization, or support. Further states that it is US policy to lead a high-level diplomatic campaign calling for the revocation and repudiation of the Goldstone Report and its follow-on measures by the UN General Assembly. Would also withhold U.S. funding from the Goldstone Report and its preparatory and follow-on measures.
· States that the U.S. may not run for a seat on the Human Rights Council, and must withhold a proportionate share of our UN regular budget contribution equal to our proportion of Council funding, until the State Department can certify that the Council does not include Members that are: state sponsors of terrorism; subject to Security Council sanctions; under Security Council-mandated human rights investigation; or that are “countries of particular concern” for religious freedom violations.
· Withholds U.S. funding from any part of the UN’s irreparably flawed Durban process (including the upcoming Durban 3 meeting), which was supposed to fight racism and bigotry, but which has been hijacked by rogue regimes and used to advance an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, anti-Western, anti-freedom agenda.
· Stipulates that the U.N. regular budget be moved from mandatory to voluntary funding. This will allow the U.S. to fund only UN agencies and programs that advance U.S. interests and values, and the resulting competition among UN entities for funding will likely make those entities more transparent, accountable, and effective. The US currently provides around 22% of the UN operating budget, but is granted no commensurate influence over the UN budget process (current practice is all General Assembly issues, including budgetary, are decided based on a one vote for each country, regardless of how little they contribute).
· Directs the U.S. Permanent Representative to the IAEA to advance a number of reforms at the organization, including measures to strengthen the IAEA’s ability to monitor member states’ compliance with their obligations and ensure that states not in compliance do not receive nuclear-related assistance from the IAEA or other countries. In addition, conditions would be placed on the U.S. financial contribution to the IAEA to ensure that state sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran and Syria, do not receive such assistance.
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) strongly supports this legislation and applauds Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and her 57 original co-sponsors, for introducing it.
ZOA encourages you to contact your Representative to express your support for H.R.2829 The United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and AReform Act and urge them to support this legislation by becoming a co-sponsor.
Phone 202.224.3121 & ask for your Member of the House of Representatives. Alternatively, you can obtain this information through our website by CLICKING HERE.
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The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is the oldest and one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the United States. With offices around the country and in Israel, the ZOA educates the public, elected officials, the media, and college/high school students about the truth of the ongoing Arab war against Israel. The ZOA works to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations through educational activities, public affairs programs and our work on Capitol Hill, and to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the media, in textbooks, in schools and on college campuses. Under the leadership of such presidents as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Rabbis Abba Hillel Silver and Stephen Wise, and current President Morton A. Klein, the ZOA has been – and continues to be – on the front lines of Jewish activism. www.zoa.org.
Posted on Sat, Aug. 27, 2011
To protect Israel at U.N., money talks
The recent onslaught of violent attacks against Israel reminds us of the growing threats facing the Jewish state. But even as extremists from Gaza fire rockets and mortars at civilians in southern Israel and cause death and destruction, we must not forget about another danger facing Israel: a unilateral campaign by Palestinian leaders to secure recognition from individual foreign governments and from the United Nations for a self-declared Palestinian “state.” This anti-Israel, anti-peace scheme must be stopped.
Abu Mazen’s Palestinian leadership has announced that they will seek recognition from the United Nations in September. They will likely turn first to the U.N. Security Council, where the United States holds a veto and should use it, although the Obama administration has yet to pledge that it will.
The next step would be the General Assembly, which has an automatic anti-Israel, anti-American majority made up largely of member states that are not democratic and other governments that repeatedly vote with rogue regimes and against Israel and the United States. The General Assembly cannot grant membership to a “Palestinian state” without the approval of the Security Council, but the General Assembly can grant the present Palestinian observer the upgraded U.N. status of “non-member state observer,” which is the same status granted to Vatican City. Other U.N. agencies and programs could also grant membership or other upgraded status to Ramallah.
Such U.N. actions would severely undermine opportunities for a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians. They would provide implicit recognition and legitimacy to a self-declared “state” and reward and reinforce the unilateral, rejectionist policies of the Palestinian leadership. Restarting bilateral negotiations would become even more difficult. Ramallah could seize on the U.N.’s actions to escalate its efforts to demonize and isolate Israel internationally, including through seeking an International Criminal Court investigation in order to undermine Israel’s right to defend itself from attacks by violent extremist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah — including the very attacks that have killed several Israelis and wounded many others in recent days.
If the U.N. were to act in support of this unilateral Palestinian scheme, it would deal a blow not only to Israel and to the cause of peace, but to the U.N. itself. The U.N.’s obsession with castigating Israel — from the Human Rights Council and the Goldstone Report and the Durban conferences to the multitude of U.N. bodies created for the sole purpose of condemning Israel — has eliminated the U.N.’s credibility to aid in achieving peace and security in the Middle East. The U.N.’s most infamous anti-Israel act came in 1975, when the General Assembly voted to declare that “Zionism is racism.”
Over 35 years later — and 20 years after the General Assembly repealed that resolution — the U.N. is still rightly discredited by that hateful act. Next month, if the U.N. again sides with Palestinian rejectionism and against Israel and peace, it will be “Zionism is racism” all over again. The U.N., not Israel, will lose whatever remaining legitimacy it holds, and it may never be able to recover.
Fortunately, we are not helpless in the face of this dangerous challenge. There is a historical precedent for how to stop it.
In 1989, Yasser Arafat’s PLO also pushed for membership for a “Palestinian state” in UN entities. The PLO’s strategy looked unstoppable until the George H.W. Bush administration made clear that the U.S. would cut off funding to any UN entity that upgraded the status of the Palestinian observer mission in any way. The UN was forced to choose between isolating Israel and receiving U.S. contributions, and they chose the latter. The PLO’s unilateral campaign was stopped in its tracks.
This example demonstrates a simple but needed lesson: At the UN, money talks, and smart withholding works.
With Arafat’s successors up to the same tricks today, the U.S. response must be as strong. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has consistently refused to use our strongest leverage — our financial contributions — to advance U.S. interests at the UN. If the executive branch will not demonstrate leadership on this issue, Congress must fill the void.
I will soon introduce the United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act, which will reflect the executive branch’s previous successful policies by cutting off U.S. contributions to any UN entity that grants membership or any other upgraded status to the Palestinian observer mission. This legislation will also leverage U.S. taxpayer dollars to make sure they do not fund biased or wasteful UN activities, and to achieve other much-needed reforms that will make the UN more transparent, accountable, objective, and effective.
It is time to use all our leverage to stop this unilateral Palestinian scheme — for the sake of our ally Israel and all free democracies, for the sake of peace and security, and for the sake of achieving a UN that upholds its founding principles.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), is Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.