House to introduce ‘fix’ for Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act

Capitol Hill. (Wikimedia Commons)


Congress, White House, in gridlock over amendments to law

A bipartisan bill that restores humanitarian and security assistance to Israelis and Palestinians and strengthens the path to justice for victims of terrorism will be introduced in the House today, sources tell Jewish Insider.

The bill is a proposed fix to the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018, a law meant to close loopholes for American victims of terrorist attacks and to hold foreign governments accountable in U.S. courts, specifically the Palestinian Authority.

What’s going on: The bill language is similar to a proposal by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the lead author of the ATCA, offered in January to satisfy objections raised by the State Department. The draft, however, was rejected by the State Department over a provision that identified the PA, in all but name, as subject to American courts.

Why it matters: In the wake of passage of the ATCA, the Palestinian Authority rejected all forms of U.S. financial assistance – security and humanitarian – to protect itself from being liable to the American judicial system. NGOs and Israeli and Palestinian security cooperation are suffering without U.S. assistance.

Insider view: The House bill builds on language earlier approved by Congress that defines specific activities by the Palestinian Authority mission to the United Nations as triggering consent to American jurisdiction. The State Department originally rejected an earlier proposal by Sen. Grassley for explicitly referencing the PA mission to the U.N.

“The State Department wants to protect the United States ability at the U.N. to get what we need for lots of different things,” one congressional aide tells Jewish Insider. “So right now [consent to personal jurisdiction] is based on whether or not [the PA] are currently receiving a waiver, which they’re not, for their office in D.C. But they’re trying to litigate based on that. The plaintiffs would like us to expand it so it would also incorporate the Palestinian mission to the U.N.”

What’s next: The House bill will be attached to the 10-year U.S.-Israel Memorandum Of Understanding that ensures billions of dollars in military assistance to the Jewish State. AIPAC is expected to lobby in favor of the House provision while its activists are in town this coming week.

This article has been updated.

Laura Kelly is the Capitol Hill reporter for Jewish Insider. Follow her @HelloLauraKelly


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