In a bombshell report, the New York Post said that according to public findings, a bill that would have seen sponsors of Palestinian terrorism sanctioned heavily, ended up being watered down significantly after a lobbying campaign by the Palestinian Authority and Qatar targeted Bronx Rep. Eliot Engel, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Edited by: JV Staff
The Post revealed that when the Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act was first introduced by Florida Republican Brian Mast in 2017, the bill called out Qatar for aiding and abetting terrorists.
“Hamas has received significant financial and military support from Qatar. Qatar has hosted multiple senior Hamas officials, including Hamas leader Khaled Mashal since 2012,” it read, according to the New York Post report.
“Qatar, a longtime US ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas, a group that continues to undermine regional stability,” Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said in language which was also included.
The Post reported that the bill made it out of committee, but never onto the floor for a vote.
Trying again in 2019, Mast came up with an almost identical bill — except the verbiage regarding the objectives of Qatar was entirely eradicated. Moreover, the Post reported that a new section was added that offered a number of loopholes around sanctions for organizations or individuals offering “humanitarian assistance to Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or any affiliate.”
Both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have been listed as foreign terrorist organizations by the State Department since 1997, as was reported by the NYP.
“After it became clear last Congress that the bill wasn’t going to pass as it was currently written these changes were made to make it more likely the bill could get enough support to pass,” a spokesman for Mast’s office told The Post, who insisted that the bill remained functionally as robust as before.
The 2019 version easily passed the House on a voice vote in July.
It angered Jewish groups. “There is certainly no excuse for organizations and countries to give money to a designated terror organization in the name of helping people of Gaza. There are other channels to do that such as via the United Nations,” the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council told The Post.
In both the critical moments before and after the bill was reintroduced without the language, Engel was lobbied heavily on the issue.