Vote No on House Bill 4681

The logic couldn't be any more faulty. With the intention of bringing down Palestine's newly-elected Hamas government, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (H.R. 4681) wrong-headedly punishes the country it is intended to help: Israel.

According to the House bill's key provisions, US economic assistance to the Palestinians will be frozen unless it can be certified (by whom, the bill does not specify) that the PA is not controlled by a terrorist organization, and that no terrorists are in positions of government power. Financial aid will only be restored once the PA acknowledges the existence of Israel, and recommits itself to the peace process (including the Road Map,) drops terrorists from its ranks, eliminates the "infrastructure" of terrorism and ends all incitement against the Jewish state. Until such a time that these conditions are met, the PA will from herein be regarded as a terrorist entity.

Specifying a number of equally draconian measures - limiting the travel of PA representatives to the UN to a twenty-five mile radius around the UN, and closing all Palestinian government offices in the US except its UN mission - H.R. 4681 is an attempt to turn back the clock of Palestinian political history to a time when the Palestine Liberation Organization was just a guerilla organization, and the only thing that approximated a Palestinian civil institution was the local Fatah office at a squalid Lebanese refugee camp.

All hope is not lost, though. Specifying that Americans may have diplomatic contact with members of the Palestinian Authority who are not members of Hamas, the bill permits at least one paltry channel of communication.

Sponsored by Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Tom Lantos (D-CA), H.R. 4681 is yet another exercise in a failed strategy of collective punishment, one which even the Israel Defense Force's history of fighting fire with fire has shown does nothing to make Israel safer. If this classic display of Congressional bipartisanship was truly a piece of legislation designed to serve Israel's best interests, you can be damn sure that the legions of starving, religion-addled suicide bombers that will strike Israel's shopping malls in the immediate future will have done so because of the American government's thoughtful gestures of encouragement.

Originally scheduled for a Tuesday May 9 vote, public outcry over the bill forced the House Judiciary Committee to assert jurisdiction over the proposed legislation, and is currently holding a "mark-up" session today in order to review potential amendments. If you oppose HR 4681 and want to make your voice heard, Jewish Voice for Peace has created a website where you can write a letter telling your Congressional representative to not sign The Palestine Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 into law.

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