Current and Recent Legislation

Below is recent Presidential, Congressional, and state legislation on Israel-Palestine and some relevant topics. For articles on this subject go to the category Legislation.

Bills become law after they have been passed by both the House and the Senate and are signed by the President. Resolutions are non-binding. For more information on the legislative process go here.

CONGRESSIONAL

  • Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.720 and H.R.1697), introduced last week by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rob Portman (R-OH), and Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Juan Vargas (D-CA).
  • Senate Bill S.107 – Would cut off funding to the UN until it repeals Security Council Resolution 2334, which reaffirmed that Israeli settlements are illegal and constitute a “flagrant violation of International Law.” Currently before Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Introduced Jan 12, 2017.
  • Senate Resolution S.Res.6 – objects to UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which reaffirmed illegality of Israeli settlements. and to all efforts that undermine direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Sponsor Sen. Rubio, Marco [R-FL] (Introduced 01/04/2017) Cosponsors: (78) 01/12/2017 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 3.
  • House Resolution H.Con.Res.11 – Expressing the sense of Congress that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and therefore, consistent with the location of other United States embassies, the United States embassy in Israel should be located in Jerusalem. Introduced Jan. 23. Referred to House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
  • House Bill H.R.257 – Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel Act. 01/04/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
  • House Bill H.R.265 — Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act of 2017 -To recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, to relocate to Jerusalem the United States Embassy in Israel. Sponsor: Rep. Lance, Leonard [R-NJ-7] (Introduced 01/04/2017) Cosponsors: (0) Latest Action: 01/04/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
  • Senate Bill S.11 — Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act -To recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, to relocate to Jerusalem the United States Embassy in Israel.. Sponsor: Sen. Heller, Dean [R-NV] (Introduced 01/03/2017) Cosponsors: (8Latest Action: 01/03/2017 Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
  • House Resolution H.Res.68Condemning Palestinian incitement and reaffirming the special bond between Israel and the United States. Sponsor: Rep. Hastings, Alcee L. [D-FL-20] (Introduced 01/27/2017) Cosponsors: (1Latest Action: 01/27/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
  • House Bill H.R.263United States Sovereignty and Commercial Freedom Act -To render United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which reaffirmed illegality of Israeli settlements, null and void as a matter of United States law. Sponsor: Rep. Lamborn, Doug [R-CO-5] (Introduced 01/04/2017) Cosponsors: (11Latest Action: 01/04/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
  • House Bill H.R.373Refusing to Assist Paying for United Nations Actions Against Israel Act. Sponsor: Rep. Gohmert, Louie [R-TX-1] (Introduced 01/09/2017) Cosponsors: (6Latest Action: 01/09/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
  • House Bill H.R.311Refusing to Assist Paying for United Nations Actions Against Israel Act. Sponsor: Rep. Gohmert, Louie [R-TX-1] (Introduced 01/05/2017) Cosponsors: (0Latest Action: 01/05/2017 Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
  • House Resolution H.Res.22 providing for consideration of the resolution (H. Res. 11) objecting to UN Security Council Resolution 2334,which reaffirmed that Israeli settlements are illegal, as an obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace. Passed House.
  • (Congress passed a law ordering the move to Jerusalem in 1995, but every president since then has exercised a six-month waiver to prevent it taking place for national security concerns. More info here.)
  • House Resolution H.Res.11 – Objecting to United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which reaffirmed that Israeli settlements are illegal,  as an obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace. Passed House.

STATES

Israel partisans are pushing “anti-BDS” legislation through state legislatures around the United States. (BDS stands for “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction” – nonviolent methods to oppose illegal and immoral actions.) 

As of January 2017, at least 59 anti-BDS measures have been introduced and 16 states have enacted anti-BDS laws.

Currently under consideration:

Past actions and analysis

Go here for an interactive map of bills around the country.

Such laws have  already been enacted in the following sixteen states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina. An anti-BDS executive order was signed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In 2016, activists successfully defeated anti-BDS legislation in Maryland, Virginia, and Massachusetts.* In New York, activists successfully stopped two anti-BDS bills from passing the legislature before Governor Cuomo signed an anti-BDS executive order.

Unconstitutional

Palestine Legal reports that these laws are unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court has long held that boycotts to bring about political, economic, and social change – like boycotts for Palestinian rights – are a form of expression protected by the First Amendment rights of speech, assembly, association, and petition. The government may not condition the receipt of government benefits on the requirement that a person forgo core political speech activity. Nor can the government enact measures that chill our speech rights.

Legislators have repeated our analysis of the legislation’s constitutionality. The California Assembly Judiciary Committee concluded that the anti-BDS bill currently being considered there “raises very serious and perhaps insurmountable First Amendment concerns.”

The Harvard Law Review agrees.

PRESIDENTIAL

Executive Order Jan 27, 2017: “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” – temporary immigration ban on people from “countries of concern”

Suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days while vetting procedures are revamped. Suspends admissions of people from “countries of particular concern” for 90 days. Suspends Syrian refugees until vetting is determined to be sufficient. Limits total refugees admitted in 2017 to 50,000. Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may admit individuals to the U.S. as refugees on a case-by-case basis. Full text

(Countries of “concern” are Syria, IraqIranLibya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.)