US passes new sanctions bill against Hamas

The US House of Representatives yesterday voted in favour of a resolution that calls for sanctions on Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organisations.

House Resolution 1850, titled “The Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act,” seeks “to impose sanctions with respect to foreign support for Palestinian terrorism, and for other purposes”. The resolutions allows the President to impose financial sanctions on people or agencies that “knowingly assists in, sponsors, or provides significant financial or material support for Hamas, Islamic Jihad and its affiliates”.

The resolution also requires the President to report to Congress about foreign governments that provide support for acts of terrorism and material support to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad or any affiliate organisation. A foreign government that supports such organisations could have its US foreign aid suspended.

Republican Brian Mast, who sponsored the resolution, said: “Radical Islamic terrorists – like Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad – have made it clear that they will stop at nothing to reign terror on innocent people around the world. Hamas is single-handedly responsible for the deaths of numerous Americans and Israelis. These sanctions send a strong message to anybody who supports these radicals preaching the destruction of Israel and death to everything we hold dear in the United States.”

The House also passed a resolution opposing boycotts of Israel. Three hundred ninety eight members supported the resolution. Seventeen voted against, 16 from the Democratic Party.

House Resolution 246, sponsored by Republican Bradley Schneider (D-Illinois-10), opposes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, “including efforts to target United States companies that are engaged in commercial activities that are legal under United States law, and all efforts to delegitimise the State of Israel.”

The resolution “affirms that the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement undermines the possibility for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by demanding concessions of one party alone and encouraging the Palestinians to reject negotiations in favour of international pressure.”

It also “urges Israelis and Palestinians to return to direct negotiations as the only way to achieve an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.