Friday, December 07, 2012

J Street - Can You Trust Them?

J Street claimed that its move on sabotaging a Senate amendment that would affect the PLO Mission in the US was successful.

Earlier this week, we asked you to help us stop the Senate from kicking the Palestinian Diplomatic Mission out of Washington, DC in retaliation for last week's United Nations vote.
You responded, sending 14,500 emails and making almost 1,000 calls telling Senators the US should not take such a counterproductive step.
And, as ThinkProgress,1 JTA2 and The Forward3 have all made crystal clear: YOU DID IT. The Senate held back, and the amendment to expel the Palestinian Mission was dropped.
This was the first salvo in J Street's new "Our Time to Lead" campaign. Through this campaign, we'll be pressing the President for bold diplomatic action to achieve a two-state solution, and we'll be fighting efforts to set back that cause - like closing the Palestinian Mission.
[1] - Senate Bill Penalizing Palestinians Does Not Pass, ThinkProgress, 12/05/12
[2] - Amendment targeting Palestinian funding disappears, JTA, 12/04/12
[3] - J Street Wins as Senate Omits Statehood Slap, The Forward, 12/05/12

A report:
A law that could have cut off U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority failed to advance in the Senate on Wednesday, effectively killing it. The defeat of the proposal, an amendment attached to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have cut off aid if the Palestinians brought a case to the International Criminal Court and expelled a Palestinian diplomatic mission in the U.S., is seen as a victory for the pro-Israel group J Street, which lobbied against its passage. An American aid cutoff would have damaged prospects for a two-state solution and hurt ordinary Palestinians, as Palestine’s economy is heavily dependent on foreign aid.
The Forward is more cautious:

It’s not clear why it was not approved.

The State Department Spokesperson said:

QUESTION: The Senate just dropped the amendment that they pursued to expel the Palestinian mission from town. Did you play any role in that?

MR. TONER: If we did or we – we constantly consult with Congress on this issue, as we do on any important issue, a foreign policy issue. You’ll have to ask Congress about why this was dropped.

Alana Goodman provides some clarity - and truth:
Did the amendment “mysteriously” disappear...? No — well, at least not to anybody who bothered to pick up a phone and ask. The amendment was dropped from the bill because of a technicality in Senate procedure, according to Senator Lindsey Graham’s office, which sponsored it.

“Once cloture was invoked, the amendment was not eligible for a vote because it was not technically germane to the legislation,” said Graham spokesperson Kevin Bishop.

Bishop added that Graham “will continue to explore opportunities for passing the legislation.”

More than 400 amendments were filed on the defense authorization bill and debated for days. More than half of them were dropped, either because they were considered technically non-germane (like the amendment to close the PLO mission) or overly contentious (the Obama administration threatened to veto the bill if certain provisions were included). Typically, there is a lot of conflict over the defense authorization bill, but this year it passed easily through unanimous consent, largely because amendments that may have raised objections were taken out. Senators were eager to rush this thing out the door and focus on the fiscal cliff debate.

Was this because of J Street? I’m sure that’s what J Street would like people to believe. In fact, the amendment was one of hundreds that disappeared because of a procedural technicality or administration objection. “Mystery” solved.
And this from Haviv Gur:
 "According to Capitol Hill observers familiar with the amendments, they were removed due to pressure from the White House. While the Obama administration actively opposed PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s UN General Assembly move — which saw a vote of 138-9 last Thursday in favor of upgrading “Palestine” to a nonmember observer state — it was concerned that the proposed amendments would limit its options when dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue going forward"
Someone knowledgeable noted:

From what I understand the amendment was never attached, which means that it's categorically false to say it was stripped. Cloture was invoked, the amendment wasn't germane and so it stayed off.  While it is correct that there was a WH objection, that didn't lead to the amendment being removed as WH objections would not have been enough to get the Senate to strip it. But it was enough to get at least one Dem to withhold UC, which prevented the amendment from being added in the few hours left before the vote happened.


a. was J Street the prime mover?
b. is J Street a White House running dog?
c. can you trust J Street for accurate information?


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