Tuesday, August 20, 2019

(JNS) The U.S. House of Representatives passed two 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.

“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.”

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