Bush Signs Palestinian Sanctions Bill;
Plans to Ignore Worst Parts

Yesterday, as expected, President Bush signed into law the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (S. 2370). Yet unexpectedly, he accompanied his signature with a signing statement that declared his intention to freely interpret or ignore many of the bill's most problematic clauses that prevent substantive U.S. engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. See Brit Tzedek's press release below.

Brit Tzedek called on the President not to sign the bill at all. We believed that his veto would have sent a strong message that the U.S. is determined to reengage in the peace process. Nevertheless, the President's signing statement demonstrates that even the Administration recognized the inherent faults in legislation that unnecessarily limits diplomacy and humanitarian aid at such a volatile moment in Israeli-Palestinian relations. We hope that this means President Bush may finally seriously engage in negotiating a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


CHICAGO -- Diane Balser, national advocacy chair of Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, expressed hope that President Bush's addition of a measured signing statement in making the Palestinian Anti Terrorism Act law yesterday indicated his willingness to engage in negotiating a two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Balser issued the following statement:

We are encouraged by President Bush's decision to distance himself from a new law that creates significant obstacles to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We hope that this means he may finally engage diplomatically in the final years of his administration.

While it would have been far more effective if the President had vetoed the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, his inclusion of a signing statement in which he promises not to adopt "the statements of policy as U.S foreign policy" and to construe them instead as "advisory" has created an opportunity for progress.

The President has left the door open for substantive U.S. diplomatic engagement in facilitating a negotiated resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by preserving his authority "to conduct the Nation's foreign affairs" in matters such as diplomatic negotiations and Palestinian representation in the United States, and by construing the bill's provisions requiring consultation with Congress to require "only notification" when providing support for moderate Palestinians and humanitarian aid.

The Middle East has unraveled on President Bush's watch. Historically the final two years of a two-term presidency affords unique opportunities for successful U.S diplomatic leadership in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We strongly urge the President to seize this opportunity to bring Israelis and Palestinians closer to the peace they long for and deserve.


Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
11 E. Adams Street, Suite 707
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: (312) 341-1205
Fax: (312) 341-1206


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