Diplomacy

Bill Supporting U.S.-Israel Alliance Gains Cloture in Senate, Heads for Passage

The United States Senate voted 74 to 19 for cloture, allowing bill S1, Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019, to move forward for debate and a vote, The New York Times reported Monday.

The law combines four previous bills into one: Rubio-Coons United States-Israel Security Authorization Assistance Act of 2018, which overwhelmingly passed both houses last year; Ros-Lehtinen-Deutch United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Extension Act, which overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives last year; Engel-Royce Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2018, which also overwhelmingly passed the House last year; and Rubio-Manchin Combating BDS Act of 2018, which was recommended for passage by the Senate Banking Committee.

Each of these bills had bipartisan sponsors and highlighted United States priorities in the Middle East.

The Rubio-Coons bill, “reaffirm[ed] bipartisan support for the unshakeable U.S.-Israel relationship by authorizing foreign military financing for Israel over 10 years” based on the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two nations.

The Ros-Lehtinen-Deutch bill bolsters the U.S. relationship with Israel and Jordan, one of the two Arab nations to make peace with Israel, as partners in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East.

The Engel-Royce bill targets entities doing business with members of the Iran-backed Assad regime, which violates human rights of its own people and supports terrorist groups across the Middle East.

The Rubio-Manchin bill is based on existing legislation and seeks to fight the United Nations-led effort to weaken Israel by isolating it economically and diplomatically.

“The Israel Project strongly supports all components of S1. We applaud the strong bipartisan support this bill received and believe this underscores the deep relationship shared between the U.S. and Israel,” Joshua S. Block, President and CEO of The Israel Project said in a statement following the cloture vote.

“S1 boosts security cooperation with Israel and Jordan—an important Arab ally. It also authorizes dramatic, and much needed, new financial sanctions against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime.”

Block also applauded the bill for codifying the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding signed by the U.S. and Israel. He called it “vitally important” to the security of both countries, and predicted that it would “deepen” the ties between the two allies.

“Lastly, it is imperative that we do not cease in the fight against the insidious and deeply anti-Semitic BDS movement,” Block said with regard to the bipartisan Rubio-Manchin legislation. “We applaud the Senate for taking important steps to empower state and local governments, including the 26 states that have anti-BDS laws, to counter the BDS movement’s economic warfare of discrimination.”

With the successful cloture vote, the bill goes before the full Senate. Final passage of the legislation is expected Wednesday, the Times reported.

[Photo: soccerdhg / Flickr ]