THE 109TH CONGRESS: JANUARY 2005–JANUARY 2007
COMPILED BY BRIAN WOOD
With this issue, JPS inaugurates a new section that will monitor U.S. congressional initiatives dealing with Palestine and Israel. Substantively, the initiatives—listed chronologically— include all relevant acts, bills, appropriations, and resolutions (joint, concurrent, and simple) that mention, even briefly, either Palestine or Israel. Speeches are not included. Space considerations have prevented more than a very brief description of each initiative, along with essential details such as bill number, date introduced, name of sponsor and number of cosponsors, votes cast, last action taken, and companion measures. The format is designed to give the reader an overview of legislation that relates to the Palestine issue and to help identify the major themes of legislation, its initiators, their priorities, the range of their concerns, and their attitudes toward the regional actors. While this first monitor covers two years—both annual sessions of the 109th Congress—each new Congress will be treated by annual session. Material in this compilation is drawn from thomas.loc.gov.
This is part of a larger IPS project to cover the current 110th Congress, subsequent congresses, and previous congresses dating back to the start of the second Bush administration and beyond, while simultaneously monitoring ongoing and past executive policy statements on the same topics. The expectation is that cumulative congressional data, when compared and/or contrasted to parallel executive data, could generate new insights into the process of and the influences upon U.S. foreign policymaking with respect to one of the most central and volatile conflicts of modern times.
THE 109TH CONGRESS
Throughout the two years that the 109th Congress was in session—from 3 January 2005 to 3 January 2007—Republicans controlled both the Senate and the House of Representatives; the Democratic majority elected to both hambers in the November 2006 elections was not sworn in until the opening of the 110th Congress in January 2007.
Several landmark events in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories occurred during the two-year period under review. As the 109th Congress opened in January 2005, Mahmud Abbas was elected president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), succeeding Yasir Arafat, who had died in November 2004. A year later, coinciding with the opening of the second session of the 109th Congress, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke and fell into a coma, removing him from public life; Ehud Olmert, who immediately assumed control, was formally elected prime minister in March 2006. Meanwhile, Hamas, which had chalked up victories throughout municipal elections in Gaza and the West Bank in the second half of 2005, unexpectedly won the Palestinian parliamentary elections on 25 January 2006, ending Fatah’s control of the PA and its unquestioned 40- year dominance of the Palestinian national movement. The year also saw Israel’s devastating summer war on Lebanon and growing U.S.-Israeli concerns over Iran. Many of these events are referenced in the congressional initiatives. Sharon’s passage from the scene was marked by a tribute to the Israeli Arab nurse who treated him at Hadassah hospital in a House speech on 16 July 2006. Reflecting events on the ground more generally, there was a marked upsurge in anti-PA initiatives following the formation of the Hamas government in March 2006, though it should be noted that efforts to block aid to the PA preceded this event by eleven months: On 8 March 2005, when Abbas and Fatah were still firmly in control, the House introduced a bill calling for the prohibition of U.S. aid to the PA and of programs in the territories unless, inter alia, there was an “absence of violence” there. Immediately following the Hamas electoral victory, the Palestinian Anti- Terrorism Act...