U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., went to bat this week for his proposal sanctioning Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and their supporters.
Back in March 2019, Mast paired up with the two leaders of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee–then chairman U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, D-NY, and then top Republican U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Tex.–and U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-NJ, to introduce the “Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act,” which “imposes sanctions on foreign persons, agencies and governments that assist Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad or their affiliates.”
Mast’s office offered some insights as to why the congressman had brought out the proposal.
“Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are foreign terrorist organizations and specially designated by the United States government as global terrorists. Hamas is responsible for the death of more than 400 Israelis and at least 25 United States citizens. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad has claimed credit for multiple terrorist attacks in Israel, including an attack that killed a New Jersey student,” Mast’s office noted.
After clearing the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee in July 2019, Mast’s bill was before the full House which passed it on a voice vote. More than 40 members lined up as cosponsors, including U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. However, the measure did not clear the U.S. Senate.
Mast and Gottheimer brought the proposal back in early 2021.
“Following my service in the Army, I chose to volunteer alongside the Israeli Defense Forces because our countries share the common ideals of freedom, democracy and mutual respect for all people. Hamas preaches destruction to Israel and death to the values we hold dear in the United States,” Mast said when he brought it back. “The United States must not tolerate anybody who provides support to these radical Islamic terrorists.”
“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 terrorist groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad by cutting them off at the source,” Gottheimer said. “This bill will strengthen sanctions to weaken these terrorist groups that threaten our ally Israel, undermine peace, and further destabilize the Middle East. This bipartisan legislation, which has already passed the House unanimously, also contains important humanitarian considerations. I hope Congress will swiftly pass the Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act so it can be signed into law.”
Mast and Gottheimer were able to amend the House version of the NDAA to bring their proposal sanctioning Hamas in as part of it. But the Senate version of the NDAA did not include it.
With the recent terrorist attacks on Israel, Mast pushed again for the proposal this week.
“Last Thursday, one of the biggest holidays – Passover – began for the Jewish people across the world. Passover is a time to pause and remember the exodus from Egypt and into the Promised Land. It’s a time of reflection and peace,” Mast noted. “However, this year, Passover in Israel was marred when Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorists like Hamas fired a barrage of rockets into Israel. There is no doubt that if it weren’t for the Iron Dome, it would have been catastrophic.
“This is not only an attack on Israel, it’s an attack on the Jewish people, as Israel is the only place on Earth that they can call a homeland. This kind of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic attack can never be tolerated. Our nation must call it out whether it’s an attack on Israel, on our streets, or in the United Nations,” he added. “That is why I introduced a bipartisan bill that would sanction all financial backers of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or their affiliates: the Hamas International Financing Prevention Act. Any person, group, or government who supports Hamas is complicit, and the U.S. should not reward them with aid or access to our economy.
“This bill, cosponsored by Congressman Josh Gottheimer, passed the House in the previous Congress as a part of the National Defense Authorization Act, but was unfortunately removed from the bill by the Senate. However, the bipartisan support it has received in the House shows us that we have the momentum to get it to the president’s desk to become law,” Mast insisted. “The Hamas International Financing Prevention Act sends a strong message that the United States will not tolerate anybody who supports these terrorists. It’s about confronting hate and standing with our allies. I will continue to fight for our ally Israel, and push this momentum to get it to the President’ desk to become law.
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