Abrahamic Initiative on the Middle East

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[Below are the letters from Rep. Price to the State Department and the State Department's reply.]

Rep. David Price letter to the US Department of State

On August 7, 2012 David Price, US House of Representatives, North Carolina 4th District, wrote a letter to then Secretary Clinton.

The letter begins by stating that the topic is the US Foreign Assistance Act and the Leahy Amendment. Rep. Price summarizes: "...the Leahy Amendment prohibits the provision of International Military Education and Training (IMET) and Foreign Military Funding (FMT) assistance to countries whose security forces commit 'gross violations of human rights'. The threshold for determining whether such violations have been committed is simply that the Secretary has 'credible information' to that effect."

The letter then notes that Rep. Price's constituents have brought to his attention reports from such NGOs as:

  • Amnesty International
  • B'Tselem
  • United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
  • Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions

and that these organizations have alleged incidents such as:

  • Illegal use of firearms
  • Unlawful detention
  • Unlawful displacement
  • Unlawful demolition of housing structures

Rep. Price then asks 4 questions regarding the State Department's opinions and actions:

  1. He notes that the State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2011 (http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/190656.pdf)  cites the NGOs listed above and asks whether their reports constitute credible information regarding gross violations of human rights.
  2. He notes that there is indisputable evidence of home demolitions in the West Bank and asks whether these actions constitute a gross violation of human rights.
  3. He asks whether the State Department has ever withdrawn aid to Israel.
  4. He notes that there is a statutory exception that allows for aid to continue even if a report of gross violations is deemed credible, providing that the country in question is determined by the relevant congressional committee to be bringing the offenders to justice. He asks has this exception ever been applied in the case of Israel.
The US Department of State reply to Rep. Price's letter

On August 31, 2012 a State Department Assistant Secretary responded to Rep. Price's letter.

The State Department letter explains in general terms that it follows a "rigorous process", takes all reports "seriously", exempts no government, etc. It says that it very closely monitors the human rights situation in "Israel and areas under Palestinian control". It allows that it is prepared to take corrective steps if there were a violation of the DoD Leahy provisions by Israeli security forces.

Regarding Rep. Price's 4 questions (above), the State Department letter:

  1. Does not reference the itemized NGOs. So question 1 remains unanswered.
  2. Does not reference home demolitions.  So question 2 remains unanswered.
  3. Says: "...no Israeli security forces unit for which we have received a nomination for Leahy-covered assistance has been found ineligible in accordance with the Leahy laws." In other words, the answer to question 3 is "No".
  4. Says that for a variety of reasons no ineligibility for receiving aid (by Israel) has been found, without saying specifically whether the statutory exception Rep. Price inquired about came into play or not. So question 4 was not specifically answered.