[Congressional Record: April 18, 2002 (Senate)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Share this page
Bookmark this page
The leading immigration law publisher - over 50000 pages of free information!
© Copyright 1995- American Immigration LLC, ILW.COM