October 4, 2021
Naomi Grant, Director of Communications
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Washington, D.C., Oct. 4, 2021) On Friday, October 1st, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed “The Israel Relations Normalization Act of 2021.” This bill was written in close consultation with Director of EMET’s Program for Emerging Democratic Voices from the Middle East Hussein Aboubakr Mansour who had been imprisoned and tortured in his native Cairo for reaching out to Israelis in friendship. It is sponsored by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.).
With 228 co-sponsors, 107 Democrats and 121 Republicans, in beautiful bipartisan collaboration, the bill requires a State Department report within 90 days of the Act becoming law, the highlights of which are as follows:
First, the State Department’s report must outline a strategy to further develop the Abraham Accords, delineating how the US government will continue promoting normalization with Israel. This report will include an “assessment of future staffing and resourcing requirements of entities” in the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department of Defense and other departments and agencies.
Second, the State Department must report on anti-normalization laws in “Arab states, and other relevant countries and regions,” which punish individual citizens for people-to-people relations with Israelis, including the “prosecution of citizens or residents of Arab countries for calling for peace with Israel, visiting the state of Israel, or engaging [with] Israeli citizens.”
This report must also include steps Arab governments have taken toward promoting interactions between their citizens and residents and Israel’s.
EMET is proud to have been instrumental in a legislation that not only supports expanding peace with Israel and regional stability, but also will support the human rights of those brave Arabs who would like to reach out to Israelis.
Said EMET founder and president Sarah Stern, “Throughout the Middle East, there are scores of individuals who have been arrested and tortured and sometimes even risk their lives for the ‘crime’ of reaching out to Israelis in friendship. The relevance of this bill is particularly important today. A little over a week ago in Erbil, Iraq, over 300 courageous intellectuals, dissidents and tribal leaders, Sunni and Shiite, convened a conference to promote Iraq joining the Abraham Accords. Unfortunately, the Iraqi government of Iraq has announced names of many participants and has set up roadblocks out of Kurdistan with the photos of these individuals.”
On September 17th, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a White House address commemorating the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords, “We will encourage more countries to follow the lead of the Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco. We want to widen the circle of peaceful diplomacy, because it’s in the interests of countries across the region and around the world for Israel to be treated like any other country. Normalization leads to greater stability, more cooperation, mutual progress – all things the region and the world need very badly right now.”
Continues Ms. Stern, “We have a moral imperative to pass this law and to do everything in our power to help brave dissidents such as those whose lives are now being threatened by the Iraqi government. This bill must be made into law as soon as possible.”
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