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US Senate Republicans reintroduce bill to sanction enablers of 'terror groups' in Palestine

The bill would impose sanctions on individuals or groups that provide support for 'terrorist activities' of Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad
Senator Marco Rubio arrives at a closed briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, on 19 April 2023 (AFP)

Senate Republicans have reintroduced a bill for the third time targeting supporters of groups like Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

The “Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad International Terrorism Support Prevention Act” would impose sanctions on individuals or “foreign states” that “knowingly assist, sponsor, or provide significant support for the terrorist activities of Hamas or PIJ". 

Such sanctions include freezing assets, denying arms exports, denying dual-use exports, and prohibiting major loans or financing from US financial institutions. 

The bill includes a provision that would allow members of congressional committees to nominate people and entities to be sanctioned. 

It would require the administration to evaluate whether to impose those sanctions and report back to Congress. There would also be a time limit on the presidential authority to waive the sanctions to two years if the legislation is enacted.

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The bill has been introduced two times before, once in 2019 and then in 2021.

The original cosponsors of the bill are Republican Senators Marco Rubio; Kevin Cramer; Bill Cassidy; Mike Braun; Thom Tillis; Rick Scott; John Hoeven; Jerry Moran; Bill Hagerty; Steve Daines; and Todd Young.

“As these terrorist groups continue to show no regard for the people of Israel, I’m proud to reintroduce this bill, which seeks to impose sanctions against foreign nationals and governments that are actively providing material support to these groups,” Rubio said.

“We must hold accountable the individuals who are aiding Hamas terrorists and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.” 

Combating BDS movement 

Just last week, Rubio reintroduced a bill designed to support state and local governments that combat the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, after several failed attempts to pass the legislation.

The BDS movement is a non-violent initiative that seeks to challenge Israel's occupation and abuses of Palestinian human rights through economic, cultural, and academic boycotts similar to the successful boycott campaigns of apartheid South Africa.

If the Combating BDS Act of 2023 bill passes, it would give congressional support to state and local governments that divest funds from or prohibit contracting with entities that engage in the BDS movement.

His bill was first introduced in 2017 and again in 2021. It follows a recent effort by lawmakers in the House of Representatives to expand legislation to prevent US companies and individuals from participating in boycotts of countries “friendly to the US”.

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