There’s a galling story up on the Ha’aretz website. It’s about how an Israeli Knesset member seeded anti-Palestinian legislation in Congress. If true, the revelation raises serious – uncomfortable – questions about Congressional independence and allegiance to a foreign state:
Capitol Hill in Washington was rocked late last month when the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment requiring the State Department, for the first time, to do a “count” of Palestinian refugees.
The amendment required the State Department to specify how many of the five million Palestinians who receive aid from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency are refugees who were personally displaced from their homes in 1948, and how many are descendants of those refugees.
Known as the Kirk Amendment, after its sponsor, Senator Mark Kirk (R-Illinois), considered one of Israel’s strongest supporters in Washington, the bill conceals within its 150-plus words a fierce battle between Republican legislators and the State Department over the United States’ relationship with UN institutions. . .
What is not common knowledge in the Beltway is that the Kirk Amendment got its start in the Jerusalem office of MK Einat Wilf (Atzmaut ), who toiled for months, together with AIPAC lobbyists and Kirk’s staff, to promote the change.
Last September, as the Palestinians prepared their unilateral bid at the UN, Wilf met with representatives of the pro-Israel lobby in Israel. “I asked them why they weren’t doing anything about UNRWA,” Wilf says, adding: “The answer I got was that figures in the Israeli government had blocked such moves in the past.” . . .
After Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Ron Dermer, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s foreign-policy adviser, gave their approval to Wilf’s efforts, she returned to AIPAC staffers and also approached Steven J. Rosen, a former foreign policy director for the organization who now works for a Washington think tank, to get things rolling on Capitol Hill.
In April Wilf and Rosen met with Kirk’s deputy chief of staff, Richard Goldberg. Kirk is recovering from a stroke he suffered a few months ago, and Goldberg is promoting the senator’s legislative efforts.
After a preliminary draft of the bill was worded, AIPAC officials went on board in an attempt to pass it, holding meeting with many of the senators on the appropriations committee in an attempt to sway them into supporting the legislation.
This story should be important to other world leaders. I wonder if Putin knows that the road to Washington goes through Tel Aviv.
[Editor's note: See Annie's post about Richard Goldberg here.]