This appropriations bill contains FY2008 funding for numerous federal agencies, and marks the first time that Congress has dealt with appropriations for both the Dept. of State and the international relations budget in the same bill. Pertinent sections include the Foreign Operations and State Department budgets, which include the following accounts:
Foreign Military Financing (FMF): Israel receives $2.4 b., of which $631.2 m. can be used to procure defense-related articles in Israel.
Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA): $40 m. for Israel to resettle refugees from the former Soviet Union and $200 m. “to address the pressing needs of Iraqi refugees and of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza.”
Economic Support Funds (ESF): Provides $218.5 m. in economic assistance to the West Bank and Gaza. Per House Amendment 388, however, (see below) funds cannot go directly to the PA. Of these funds, $2 m. can be used for administrative expenses for USAID for programs in the West Bank and Gaza; not more than $100 m. can be available for cash transfer to the PA, even with a presidential waiver, until the secy. of state certifies to Congressional appropriations committees that the PA has established a “single treasury account” for all PA expenses, eliminated all other accounts, and has established a single civil service roster and payroll. Stipulates that no funds may go to PA employees in Gaza, Hamas, any Hamas-controlled entity, or any “power-sharing government” with Hamas until Hamas accepts certain principles. Also requires an annual audit of assistance to the PA.
In the Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR) account, the bill conditions U.S. funding of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Israel not being “denied its right to participate” in IAEA activities.
The bill also revokes $100 m. of the $1.715 b. in FMF and ESF to Egypt until it takes certain measures, including “detect[ing] and destroy[ing] the smuggling network and tunnels” between Egypt and Gaza.
Finally, contains the provisions of the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act (see S. 594 on 2/14/07 and H.R. 1755 on 3/29/07).
The final version of the bill and Senate Appropriations Committee detailed (110-128) the following subsections:
• Provides $8 m. for the Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Reconciliation, and Democracy Fund, which supports people-to-people reconciliation programs through grants made on a transparent, competitive basis.
• Under the Reconciliation Program account provides $16 m. and an additional $9 m. for programs in the Middle East that “bring together individuals of different ethnic, religious and political backgrounds in countries affected by civil conflict and war,” seeking to promote understanding, mutual respect, and reconciliation through the active participation of members of opposing groups. Grants are offered on an “open, transparent, and competitively bid process.” Decisions are made by USAID after consultation with the Dept. of State.
• Under the Reconciliation Program account or the Israeli-Palestinian Peace, Reconciliation, and Democracy Fund, supports (without specifying dollar amounts): The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, Interns for Peace, the Jerusalem YMCA, Seeds of Peace, and the Israeli-Arab Scholarship Program.
• Recommends $25 m. for the multinational observer force in Sinai, $4 m. more than the administration’s request, due to Gaza’s deteriorating security situation.
• Supports the first Regional Cooperative Program for Health conducted by the Hebrew University's Kuvin Center and Al Quds University.
• Supports Dept. of State or USAID support for a project to be administered through New Mexico State University “to facilitate on-line communication . . . between Israeli and Palestinian students, concerning issues of mutual interest.”
The Omnibus Appropriations Bill also contains a number of annual pro