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Sunday, October 20, 2019

(JNS) The U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills, one seeking to enhance the U.S.-Israel relationship and another bill to sanction foreign persons, agencies and governments that assist Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) or their affiliates.

Known as the U.S.-Israel Cooperation Enhancement and Regional Security Act, the bill strives to improve bilateral security and economic ties between the two countries, including the annual $3.3 billion in security assistance and $500 million in U.S.-Israel missile-defense initiatives. Introduced by Reps. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), it had 288 co-sponsors: 147 Republicans and 141 Democrats and passed by a voice vote.

The other legislation, known as the Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act, slaps financial penalties on foreign persons, agencies and governments that assist Hamas, PIJ or their affiliates; Hamas and PIJ are U.S.-designated terrorist groups.

This bill was introduced in March by Reps. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who is the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. The bill, which also passed by a voice vote, had 44 co-sponsors: 34 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

Gottheimer said, “The terrorist group Hamas is well-known for firing rockets and digging terror tunnels into Israel, and using Gazans, including women and children, as human shields. It is critical that the United States and our allies continue to isolate Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad by cutting them off at the source.”