Schneider Bill Supporting Normalization with Israel Passes House Foreign Affairs Committee
WASHINGTON – Last night, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the bipartisan Israel Relations Normalization Act during its markup. The bill, which Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10) introduced in April, would encourage the continued cooperation of the Abraham Accords and urge expansion of these peace and normalization agreements to countries that do not currently have diplomatic ties with Israel.
Congressman Schneider’s remarks on the bill as prepared for delivery are available below:
Chairman, thank you for holding this markup today on 9 important measures before the committee, including my bipartisan legislation, the Israel Relations Normalization Act.
I am pleased and grateful for your partnership in introducing this bill earlier this year alongside our colleagues Ranking Member McCaul, Rep. Wagner, Rep. Sylvia Garcia, and Rep. Meijer.
This legislation comes at a time of historic change in the Middle East – a region for too long defined by animosity and conflict. Last year—supported by strong U.S. leadership—Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalized relations with the signing of the initial Abraham Accords on the White House lawn. Sudan and Morocco soon followed suit.
Now, the U.S. government has an opportunity to build upon the success of the Abraham Accords.
I’ve spoken to officials from the U.S., Israel, and from the Abraham Accord countries, all of whom have expressed sincere hope and optimism as to what the peace and normalization agreements have already done, and will continue to do, for their citizens and the Middle East at large.
In fact, as we consider this bill today, Israel just formally opened its embassy in Bahrain, naming Eitan Na’eh its first ambassador. (I might also note that Ambassador Na’eh served early in his career in Chicago!) The first commercial flights between Manama and Tel Aviv also happened today.
Israel and the UAE have both established embassies in each other’s countries and bilateral trade has increased since normalization last year. Israel’s Search and Rescue organization also signed an MOU with counterparts in the UAE to collaborate on responses to future international disasters and other crises.
These are just a few examples of the Abraham Accords already bearing fruits of peace.
My bipartisan legislation before the committee today encourages this continued cooperation and urges expansion of these peace and normalization agreements to countries that do not currently have diplomatic ties with Israel.
While we’ve seen much success in the last year, we must also remember this path will not be easy.
Changing mindsets is hard. To this end, my legislation seeks to break down barriers to normalization by requiring reporting on anti-normalization laws and instances of prosecution or retribution by governments against citizens who have called for peace with Israel, visited Israel, or engages with Israeli citizens in any way.
Mr. Chairman, after four elections in two years, Israeli voters have embarked on a new track with a new coalition government. One that represents unity and peace. Israel’s government is the most diverse in the nation’s young history. It may be one of the most diverse governments in parliamentary history. It is proof that things can be different and new directions are not just possible but within reach.
It is in this same spirit that the Abraham Accords already established among Israel, UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco will hopefully lead to future agreements that will continue to strengthen ties between Israel, Arab, Muslim-majority, and other countries.
Ultimately I hope the Abraham Accords will help forge a path to an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians ensuring a secure, Jewish, and democratic Israel living side by side with a Palestinian state with peace, security, and prosperity for both peoples.
Our legislation today can lift the chances of peace for the region and a better future for all of its citizens.
I am also pleased to support the other legislation being considered today, in particular, those I have cosponsored - the Peace Corps Reauthorization Act, Global Respect Act, and the resolution calling on Russian to release Paul Whelan.
I am especially disturbed by Russia’s treatment of Paul Whelan. Last week, we reached the grim milestone of his thousandth day in Russian detention. I want to thank Mr. Whelan’s family for their tireless advocacy and engagement with Members to shine a light on his abhorrent treatment. I join with the Members of this committee in calling for his immediate release.
I thank the sponsors of these bills for their work. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.