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[Congressional Record: April 18, 2002 (Senate)]
[Page S2952-S2976]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []


      By Mr. McCONNELL (for himself, Mrs. Feinstein, Ms. Collins, Mr. 
        Smith of Oregon, and Mr. Bennett):
  S. 2194. A bill to hold accountable the Palestine Liberation 
Organization and the Palestinian Authority, and for other purposes; to 
the Committee on Foreign Relations.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, on behalf of the Senator from 
California and myself, I offer the Arafat Accountability Act. This act 
seeks to create conditions more conducive to stopping the senseless 
violence and flow of innocent blood in the Middle East.
  The act takes aim at the weakest link in ongoing efforts to negotiate 
a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict--PLO Chairman 
Yasser Arafat. His leadership has been marked by repeated failures--
failure to forcefully denounce and terminate the spree of horrific 
homicide bombings, failure to serve as a credible and reliable partner 
in peace, and failure to fulfill the aspirations of the Palestinian 
people for stability, economic opportunity, and a viable homeland.
  Instead, he has acquiesced to terror and violence. Documents seized 
during recent counterterrorism operations on the West Bank reveal his 
personal involvement in financing and supporting terrorism against 
Israeli civilians. The successful interception of a cargo vessel from 
Iran earlier this year--loaded with offensive weaponry destined for the 
Palestinian Authority--should have conclusively proven that Chairman 
Arafat was, at best, a balky partner in peace, or, at worst, a foe of 
any meaningful reconciliation.
  The terrorist attacks against Israel must come to an end. And they 
must end on terms that safeguard the lives and livelihoods of innocent 
Israeli and Palestinian civilians. Much like our war against the 
Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan, Israel is rotting out terrorist 
cells and destroying their networks.
  It is no understatement that the Israeli military is undertaking its 
operations with precision and professionalism that no other army in the 
region could exert.
  The Arafat Accountability Act will not frustrate or derail the 
important efforts of the administration to secure a political solution 
to the ongoing strife. Rather, it places critical incentives to ensure 
that Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian Authority do not deliver a 
fatal blow to the prospects for peace.
  Specifically, the act denies a visa to Arafat and other senior PLO 
officials to travel to the United States, downgrades the PLO's 
representative office here in Washington, restricts the travel of 
senior PLO officials at the United Nations, and seizes the assets of 
the PLO and the Palestinian Authority and Arafat in the United States. 
It also requires the administration to report to Congress on any acts 
of terrorism committed by the PLO or its constituent elements.
  Importantly, the bill provides the President with flexibility in 
determining the sanctions, but it is my expectation that they would 
remain in place until a cease-fire is achieved and the Tenet plan 
implemented. These are the very same short-term goals that Secretary 
Powell has been trying to achieve over the last few days.
  We should not forget that in 1993 Arafat himself committed the PLO to 
``a peaceful resolution of the conflict,'' so we are not holding Arafat 
to any higher standard than he established for himself already.
  I would offer that Arafat should have listened more carefully to 
Secretary Powell when he said to the Nation and the world from the 
McConnell Center for Political Leadership at the University of 
Louisville last year that solutions to this conflict ``will not be 
created by teaching hate and division, nor will they be born amidst 
violence and war.''
  I emphasize that it is not my intent to push this bill to a vote on 
the Senate floor at this time. We should give the President and his 
advisers more time to pursue their objectives in the region.
  It is my intent, though, and the intent of the Senator from 
California, to send a powerful signal to Chairman Arafat and the 
Palestinian Authority that the Senate will not stand idly by while they 
talk peace in English and practice terror in Arabic.
  No progress toward a political solution to this conflict will be made 
until and unless Yasser Arafat forcefully, clearly, and repeatedly 
condemns homicide bombings and other acts of terrorism against Israel 
and takes concrete measures to restrain Palestinian extremists.

[[Page S2953]]

  The bill we introduce today puts added pressure on Arafat and the PLO 
to be responsible and responsive partners in peace. There is no room 
for further failure on Arafat's part. He must either lead his people 
toward peace or get out of the way.
  Let me close by commending President Bush and his administration for 
their superb conduct in the ongoing war against terrorism. They 
certainly have my full support in this endeavor--be it in the West Bank 
or in Gaza or, for that matter, in Iraq.
  My colleagues and I are looking forward to hearing from Secretary 
Powell when he appears before the Foreign Operations Subcommittee next 
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Madam President, I thank the Senator from Kentucky 
for his work and leadership on this issue.
  We are here because we believe any hope for peace in the Middle East 
must begin with the complete renunciation of terrorism by the 
Palestinian Liberation Organization and a strong, unwavering commitment 
to bring such terrorism to an end.
  We also believe that only with the leadership of the United States 
can there be a peaceful settlement and resolution of issues in the 
  For the past 18 months, as the violence of the second Intifada has 
increased, the United States has consistently called upon Yasser Arafat 
to halt the terrorism he pledged to end in the Oslo accords.
  Unfortunately, Arafat has incited the violence and helped financially 
support the terrorists.
  We now know that one of Arafat's top advisers is directly involved in 
financing the illegal weapons purchases and terror activities of the Al 
Aqsa Brigade.
  We now know, according to documents seized by the Israeli Defense 
Forces, that Arafat was directly involved in efforts to illegally 
smuggle more than 50 tons of arms into Israel from Iran a few months 
  We now know that Arafat has failed to confiscate weapons of terrorist 
  We know he has failed to arrest and hold suspected terrorists and is 
harboring suspects in the assassination of an Israeli Cabinet official 
in his own headquarters in Ramallah.
  In fact, much of the terrorism emanates from the heart of the PLO, 
carried out by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, composed of members of 
Arafat's own Fatah faction.
  Since the beginning of the year, 209 people have been murdered and 
more than 1,500 injured in these suicide bombings. These are children, 
women, men--innocent civilians.
  The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed credit for numerous of these 
attacks, including on March 31, central Jerusalem, killing 3 people; 
March 3, killing 10 people in west Jerusalem; and January 31, when the 
first female bomber killed an elderly Israeli.
  A document seized by the Israel Defense Forces in Ramallah, signed by 
Arafat himself, approves funding for the Al Aqsa Brigades.
  On February 3, Arafat wrote a New York Times op-ed opposing violence 
against Israel. Yet he declared a few days later, in Ramallah, that 
``we will make the lives of the infidels Hell'' and led a chant of ``A 
million martyrs marching to Jerusalem!''
  And this past week, while Arafat spoke out against terrorism, his 
wife, in Paris, said she would be proud if she had a son who became a 
suicide bomber.
  I believe, sincerely, that this is not a leader who wants peace for 
his people. In fact, I believe the suicide bombings have been precisely 
calculated to destroy any chance for peace.
  If these suicide bombers cannot be stopped, the situation is going to 
continue to deteriorate, Israel will have to continue to exercise its 
legitimate right of self-defense, and the result will be full-scale 
military conflagration.
  Israel has done no less--and certainly no more--than what any country 
would do to defend itself. There has been a lamentable loss of life in 
the West Bank. And I grieve for it because I believe, very deeply, 
every life--Israeli or Palestinian--has equal value.
  But let us not forget that Israel's military operation has been one 
based on specific intelligence information, with specific military 
goals--to act directly against terrorists who before the start of the 
operation were carrying out daily suicide bombings against Israeli 
civilians--and carried out with considerable restraint.
  Certainly, Israel has not gone beyond what the United States and our 
allies have been doing in Afghanistan, or the United Kingdom in 
Northern Ireland, or the bloody French campaign in Algeria--let alone, 
what Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, or Iran do on almost a daily 
basis to quell dissent.
  Does anyone doubt that a suicide bombing in Cairo, or Riyadh, or 
Damascus, or Beirut, or Paris would be met with the strongest of 
reactions, as was the 9-11 terrorist incident here?
  There simply is no excuse for arming a teenage girl with bombs around 
her waist to blow up women and children. And this kind of terror is 
happening over and over again.
  So the time is now for this Senate to stand up, in a strong, unified 
voice, to condemn the actions of Chairman Arafat and his PLO and the 
terrorism that has spawned.
  Chairman Arafat has said one thing in English and another in Arabic. 
Chairman Arafat fans the flames and incites the people.
  We offer this bill, after witnessing the failure of efforts by 
Messrs. Tenet, Mitchell, Zinni, and, at least initially, Secretary 
Powell to break the deadlock largely because Chairman Arafat has not 
brought to an end the suicide bombing and other acts of terrorism.
  This legislation would require the President to report to Congress 
every 90 days, detailing the acts of terrorism engaged in by the 
Palestinian Liberation Organization or any of its constituent elements 
and, based on that report, to designate the PLO or its constituent 
elements as terrorist organizations, or explain why not.
  The legislation also finds that Chairman Arafat and the PLO have 
violated his commitment to peace through the recent purchase of 50 tons 
of offensive weaponry from Iran; that they are responsible for the 
murder of hundreds of innocent Israelis and the wounding of thousands 
more since October 2000, and that they have been directly implicated in 
funding and supporting terrorists who have claimed responsibility for a 
number of homicide bombings inside Israel.
  Because of the failure by the Palestinian Liberation Organization to 
renounce terrorism, the act would, A, downgrade PLO representation in 
the United States to before Oslo; B, place travel restrictions on 
senior PLO representatives at the United Nations; C, confiscate assets 
of PLO or Palestinian Authority or Chairman Arafat in the United 
States; D, deny visas to Chairman Arafat or other officials of the PLO 
or the Palestinian Authority.
  It is important to note that the President may, on a case-by-case 
basis, waive this provision based on national security considerations.
  The legislation presents a sense of the Senate outlining the first 
steps needed to reach peace. First, the United States should urge an 
immediate and unconditional end to all terrorist activities and 
commencement of a cease-fire. Two, Arafat and the PLO should turn over 
to Israel for detention and prosecution those wanted by the Israeli 
Government for the assassination of Israeli Minister of Tourism, Mr. 
Zeevi. Third, Arafat and the PLO should take broad and immediate action 
to condemn all acts of terrorism, including and especially suicide 
bombing, which has resulted in the murder of over 125 Israeli men, 
women, and children in the month of March alone and the injury of 
hundreds more; confiscate and destroy the infrastructure of terrorism, 
including weapons, bomb factories and materials, as well as end all 
financial support of terrorist activities; and to take positive steps 
to urge all Arab nations and individuals to cease funding terrorist 
operations and the families of terrorists.
  Finally, the President of the United States, working with the 
international community, with Israel and the Arab States, should 
continue the search for a comprehensive peace in the region.
  There is no question that there are serious differences to be 
reconciled between Israel and the Palestinian people and that only a 
political settlement can hopefully bring the violence in this region to 
an end. I believe the 1967 borders, borders which have the imprimatur 
of the United Nations, hold the key to a settlement. Despite serious 
differences about the refugee problem, ongoing security, and the status 
of Jerusalem, I believe peace can be

[[Page S2954]]

achieved through negotiation and agreement. But I know it cannot be 
achieved through violence.
  The necessary first step is the end of the violence, the terrorism, 
and the suicide bombing. Once that is done, we are firmly convinced 
that if leaders on both sides want peace, the rest can all be worked 

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