Eliot Engel waters down Hamas sanctions invoice after lobbying from Qatar


A invoice that will sanction sponsors of Palestinian terrorism was watered down considerably after a lobbying marketing campaign by the Palestinian Authority and Qatar focused Bronx Rep. Eliot Engel, chair of the Home Overseas Affairs Committee, public filings present.

When the Palestinian Worldwide Terrorism Help Prevention Act was first launched by Florida Republican Brian Mast in 2017, the invoice known as out Qatar for aiding and abetting terrorists.

“Hamas has obtained vital monetary and navy assist from Qatar. Qatar has hosted a number of senior Hamas officers, together with Hamas chief Khaled Mashal since 2012,” it learn.

“Qatar, a longtime US ally, has for a few years brazenly financed Hamas, a bunch that continues to undermine regional stability,” US Undersecretary for Terrorism and Monetary Intelligence David Cohen stated in language which was additionally included.

The invoice made it out of committee, however by no means onto the ground for a vote.

In 2019 Mast tried once more with an nearly equivalent invoice — besides the robust discuss on Qatar was stripped completely. As well as, a brand new part was added providing quite a few loopholes round sanctions for organizations or people providing “humanitarian help to Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or any affiliate.”

Each Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have been listed as international terrorist organizations by the US State Division since 1997.

“After it grew to become clear final Congress that the invoice wasn’t going to move because it was presently written these modifications have been made to make it extra doubtless the invoice may get sufficient assist to move,” a spokesman for Mast’s workplace instructed The Put up, who insisted that the invoice remained functionally as sturdy as earlier than.

The 2019 model simply handed the Home on a voice vote in July.

It angered Jewish teams. “There may be definitely no excuse for organizations and international locations to provide cash to a delegated terror group within the title of serving to individuals of Gaza. There are different channels to try this reminiscent of by way of the United Nations,” the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council instructed The Put up.

In each the crucial moments earlier than and after the invoice was reintroduced with out the language, Engel was lobbied closely on the problem.

Between February 7, 2019 and Could 7, 2019 lobbyists for the Palestinian Authority at Squire Patton Boggs hit up Engel’s workplace seven instances to debate “US-Palestinian Bilateral relations.”

On March 19 — two days earlier than the up to date invoice was submitted to the committee — a rep for Engel, Mira Resnick, took a gathering with lobbyists from the identical agency. The day after the brand new language was formally launched, she adopted up with a cellphone name.

A spokesman for the committee denied the conferences had centered on the sanctions invoice, however did affirm Resnick had been lobbied on the problem by the Qatari embassy.

“Eliot instructed me immediately that he was getting numerous strain from the Qataris,” an expert acquaintance of Engel’s instructed The Put up. “The Qataris did a full courtroom press to take away themselves from the invoice.”

“I had conferences with the Qatari embassy,” over the problem, a committee staffer confirmed to The Put up.

“The committee heard from the everyday vary of out of doors pursuits in the course of the legislative course of, however the concept that chairman Engel or the committee caved to anybody’s calls for is simply foolish,” committee spokesman Tim Mulvey instructed The Put up.

“There was bipartisan pushback. There was some vital pushback that led to the invoice type of getting watered down,” stated one other staffer conversant in the matter, who added that legislators from each events on and off the committee had pressed for the removing of the language.

The pushback – a minimum of partially — comes from a concerted Qatari lobbying marketing campaign. Engel is way from alone in fielding inquiries from Qatar’s brokers in Washington. Public filings present a sustained effort by the nation to affect public coverage, spending thousands and thousands of {dollars} and using a number of lobbying outlets for the trouble. They’ve focused dozens of D.C. lawmakers.

Engel didn’t reply to a number of messages looking for remark.

Regardless of an extended and well-documented historical past of financing terrorist organizations, Qatar stays a key US regional ally. The Al Udeid Air Base — the biggest US air base within the Center East — is in Qatar and is residence to roughly 11,000 US navy workers.

“We’ve run our air conflict out of Afghanistan out of there, the air marketing campaign in opposition to ISIS is run out of there,” F. Gregory Gause, a regional knowledgeable and Professor of Worldwide Affairs at Texas A&M College instructed The Put up.

“The Pentagon is all for sustaining shut relations with the Qataris … dropping the hammer on the Qataris actually wouldn’t be sensible politics.”


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