Global Policy Forum

House Bill Calls for Elimination

United Nations Association of the USA
April 13, 2007

Legislation which seeks to eliminate United Nations entities and efforts "that are duplicative or fail to ensure balance in the approach of the UN to Israeli-Palestinian issues," was introduced in the House of Representatives on March 30, 2007. The bill, H.R. 1856, introduced by Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), requires the Secretary of State to withhold US contributions to UN budgets until specified UN programs concerning the Israeli-Palestinian issue are eliminated. The bill also requires the Secretary of State to withhold the US share of assessed and voluntary funding for all UN programs providing direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority. In addition, it seeks to limit direct US funding of the Palestinian Authority, except when the assistance supports the Middle East Peace Process. The bill has five original co-sponsors-Reps. Eric Cantor (R-VA), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Mike Pence (R-IN), Michael McCaul (R-TX), and Dan Burton (R-IN). It has been sent to the House Committees on Foreign Affairs, the Judiciary, and Financial Services.

Would Limit US Assistance to Palestinian Authority

The "Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act Amendments of 2007" states that the US may provide assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) only when specific certifications are met, as determined by the President. The certifications include determinations by the President that no part of the PA is controlled by a foreign terrorist organization and that the PA has publicly acknowledged Israel's right to exist, among others. In addition, it calls for recertification of these stipulations no later than 90 days after they are accepted, and every six months thereafter, to ensure that they are continuing to be met. However, the limitations to funding "shall not apply with respect to assistance to the Office of the President of the Palestinian Authority for non-security expenses directly related to facilitating a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" if a number of additional conditions, as determined by the President, are met.

Calls on US Representative to UN to Implement Audit Recommendations

The bill also calls on the US to conduct an audit of the functions of a number of UN programs, including the UN Division for Palestinian Rights, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and forward to the appropriate congressional committees "a report containing recommendations for the elimination of such entities and efforts that are duplicative or fail to ensure balance in the approach of the UN to Israeli-Palestinian issues." It then states that it will be the duty of the US Permanent Representative to the UN to "use the voice, vote and influence of the US at the UN to seek the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report." It also calls on the Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan investigative arm of the Congress, to conduct an audit of the status of the implementation by the UN of the recommendations contained in the President's report.

Bill Authorizes Withholding of US Contributions to UN

The bill maintains that the Secretary of State shall "withhold from US contributions to the regular assessed budget of the UN. amounts that are proportional to the percentage of such budget that are expended for such entities [that are identified in the legislation]" until these programs, and any other programs deemed duplicative or unbalanced on the Israeli-Palestinian issue by the President, are eliminated. In addition, the bill states that the Secretary of State "shall withhold from US contributions to the regular assessed budget of the UN. amounts that are equal to the amounts of such budget that are expended by any UN affiliated or specialized agency for assistance directly to the Palestinian Authority." It calls for this same withholding to be applied to US voluntary contributions to the UN.

Seeks to Limit Travel of Palestinian Officials Stationed at UN

The bill also seeks to place travel restrictions on officials and representatives of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization stationed at the UN. If passed, the bill would limit travel by such representatives to within a 25-mile radius of the UN headquarters building in New York City.

Looks to Prohibit Aid from International Financial Institutions to Palestinians

In addition to limitations to US and UN funding, HR 1856 states that the "United States Executive Director at each international financial institution shall use the voice, vote, and influence of the United States to prohibit assistance to the Palestinian Authority" unless the same specific certifications, as mentioned earlier, are met. However, unlike the stipulations set forth for the UN, the bill does not call on the Secretary of State to withhold funding to the international financial institutions if the US's recommendations are not instituted.

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