Dean Heller on Foreign Policy
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. IKE SKELTON (D, MO-4): Pakistan is important to the Middle East and our intentions there. Their cooperation, of course, is so very, very important. This legislation gives economic and democratic development assistance to that country.
Rep. HOWARD BERMAN (D, CA-28): We can't allow al Qaeda or any other terrorist group that threatens our national security to operate with impunity in the tribal regions or any other part of Pakistan. Nor can we permit the Pakistani state and its nuclear arsenal to be taken over by the Taliban. To help prevent this nightmare scenario, we need to forge a true strategic partnership with Pakistan and its people, strengthen Pakistan's democrat government, and work to make Pakistan a source of stability in a volatile region.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R, FL-18): This bill focuses on past actions and failures attributed to the Pakistani Government, punishing the new leadership for the sins of its predecessors. While the authors of H.R. 1886 may have sought to empower our Pakistani partners to undertake the formidable task of fighting and winning against violent extremists, it does the opposite. We have gone down this road before. I recall during the Iraq debate, Members sought to prejudge the surge strategy before it could even be implemented. Let us hope that this will not be repeated with respect to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. HOWARD BERMAN (D, CA-28): Integrating India into a global nonproliferation regime is a positive step. Before anyone gets too sanctimonious about India's nuclear weapons program, we should acknowledge that the five recognized nuclear weapons states have not done nearly enough to fulfill their commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, including making serious reductions in their own arsenals, nor in the case of the US in ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. BARBARA LEE (D, CA-9): In withholding my approval, I seek not to penalize the people of India but, rather, to affirm the principle of nuclear nonproliferation. Jettisoning adherence to the international nuclear nonproliferation framework that has served the world so well for more than 30 years, as approval of the agreement before us would do, is just simply unwise. It is also reckless.
Approval of this agreement undermines our efforts to dissuade countries like Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. By approving this agreement, all we are doing is creating incentives for other countries to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
The Arab American Institute has compiled a Scorecard to catalogue the voting record of the 112th Congress on issues of importance to the Arab American community. Though not comprehensive, we have attempted to provide a snapshot of legislation concerning many of the primary issues concerning Arab Americans. For the Senate, we have included 10 items: two bills on the Arab Spring, three on Palestine, one on Lebanon, one regarding civil liberties, and two for immigration reform.
RESOLUTION expressing vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders:
Excerpts from Letter from 73 Senators to Secretary of State Kerry We are deeply concerned by the decision of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to seek membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC), because the Palestinian Authority is not a state and its express intent is to use this process to threaten Israel.
Pres. Abbas' effort contravene the spirit of earlier agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and erodes the prospect for peace. Therefore, the US must make clear that joining the ICC is not a legitimate or viable path for Palestinians.
Israel is a major strategic partner of the US and is facing increasing pressure from those who seek to delegitimize its very existence. The only realistic and sustainable path to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Supporting argument: (Heritage Foundation, "U.S. Should Not Join the ICC," Aug. 18, 2009): The ICC prosecutor is exploring a request by the Palestinian National Authority to prosecute Israeli commanders for alleged war crimes committed during the recent actions in Gaza. Palestinian lawyers maintain that the Palestinian National Authority can request ICC jurisdiction as the de facto sovereign even though it is not an internationally recognized state. By countenancing Palestine's claims, the ICC prosecutor has enabled pressure to be applied to Israel over alleged war crimes, while ignoring Hamas's incitement of the military action and its commission of war crimes against Israeli civilians. Furthermore, by seemingly recognizing Palestine as a sovereign entity, the prosecutor's action has created a pathway for Palestinian statehood without first reaching a comprehensive peace deal with Israel. This determination is an inherently political issue beyond the ICC's authority.
Congressional Summary: States that it is US policy to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, and that the US Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem by 2017.
Supporters reasons for voting YEA: (Times of Israel ): Congressional legislation would force the Obama administration to change longstanding US policy and move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The bill challenges presidential authority on a key foreign policy question. The bill strikes the language in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 that gave the president waiver authority to delay the move. Every president since Bill Clinton has signed a presidential waiver every six months in order to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv, citing concerns that a move to Jerusalem would upset the prospects for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital in 1980, but the US, like all other countries, maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.
Opponents reasons for voting NAY: (The Morning Call, April 16, 1984) The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and the National Association of Arab Americans (NAAA) have begun a "multifaceted protest" opposing moving the US. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Israel annexed East Jerusalem from Jordan after capturing it in the 1967 war but assured free access to religious shrines. The nations of the Arab League argue that the Israelis are in Jerusalem as an "army of occupation" and they have never recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. One compromise would be the placement of the American Consulate in Jerusalem with the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. Secretary of State George P. Shultz cautioned that a relocation "would fan Islamic extremism, possibly inciting a wave of violence against our citizens, diplomats and installations in the region."
Congressional Summary: S.Res.6/H.Res.11 objects to U.N. Security Council Resolution 2334, which characterizes Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal and demands cessation of settlement activities.
Opposing argument: (Cato Institute, Dec. 19, 2003): In principle, separation seems the best answer to stop the killing. For this reason, a security fence makes sense--if it actually separates Jew from Arab. Unfortunately, to protect a number of disparate Israeli settlements erected in the midst of Palestinian communities, Israel currently is mixing Jew and Arab and separating Arab from Arab. Thus are sown the seeds for conflict. After 36 years of occupation, the land remains almost exclusively Arab. The limited Jewish presence is the result of conscious colonization. The settlements require a pervasive Israeli military occupation, imposing a de facto system of apartheid. Separation offers the only hope, but separation requires dismantling Israeli settlements.
Dear Secretary Clinton:
We are writing to reaffirm our commitment to the unbreakable bond that exists between our country and the State of Israel and to express to you our deep concern over recent tension. In every important relationship, there will be occasional misunderstandings and conflicts.
Our valuable bilateral relationship with Israel needs and deserves constant reinforcement. As the Vice-President said during his recent visit to Israel: "Progress occurs in the Middle East when everyone knows there is simply no space between the U.S. and Israel when it comes to security, none. No space." Steadfast American backing has helped lead to Israeli peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. And American involvement continues to be critical to the effort to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
We recognize that, despite the extraordinary closeness between our country and Israel, there will be differences over issues both large and small. Our view is that such differences are best resolved quietly, in trust and confidence, as befits longstanding strategic allies. We hope and expect that, with mutual effort and good faith, the United States and Israel will move beyond this disruption quickly, to the lasting benefit of both nations.
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