House Committee approves bill to strengthen and expand Abraham Accords

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Illinois), who is leading the bill, told The Jerusalem Post, 'It's very exciting to see... I hope it comes to the floor soon.'

 THE SIGNING CEREMONY for the Abraham Accords at the White House in September 2020. (photo credit: TOM BRENNER/REUTERS)
THE SIGNING CEREMONY for the Abraham Accords at the White House in September 2020.
(photo credit: TOM BRENNER/REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved on Thursday night the bipartisan Israel Relations Normalization Act during its markup. The bill 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.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee already adopted the bipartisan version of the bill, which requires the State Department to provide a strategy “to strengthen and expand the Abraham Accords and other related normalization agreements with Israel.”

If signed into law, the State Department would be required to provide “a detailed description of how the US government will leverage diplomatic lines of effort and resources from other stakeholders to encourage normalization, economic development and people-to-people programming.”

The bill states that “it is the policy of the United States to expand and strengthen the Abraham Accords to encourage other nations to normalize relations with Israel and ensure that existing agreements reap tangible security and economic benefits for the citizens of those countries.”

In addition, it calls to develop and implement “a regional strategy to encourage economic cooperation among Israel, Arab states and the Palestinians to enhance the prospects for regional peace, respect for human rights [and] transparent governance,” among other issues.

Congressman Brad Schneider (credit: US CONGRESS/PUBLIC DOMAIN/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)Congressman Brad Schneider (credit: US CONGRESS/PUBLIC DOMAIN/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

The bill calls for an assessment of the future staffing and resourcing required for expanding the agreements and potential roadblocks to future agreements.

It also seeks recommendations to improve the coordination between the Special Envoy to Monitor Antisemitism and the ambassador for International Religious Freedom to combat racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and antisemitism, “which hinder the improvement of relations between Israel, Arab states and other relevant countries and regions.”

The State Department is required under the legislation to issue a report on international efforts to promote normalization, including “the status of anti-normalization laws in Arab states and other relevant countries and regions,” and “instances of prosecution of citizens or residents of Arab countries for calling for peace with Israel, visiting the State of Israel or engaging Israeli citizens in any way.”

“It was a very exciting day to pass this important legislation,” Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Illinois), who is leading the bill, told The Jerusalem Post. “On a personal level, I remember vividly the news that Sadat was flying to Jerusalem in 1977. To jump ahead to see that, as a body that I’m now a part of, this Congress is taking direct action to try to help promote peace between Israel and our neighbors, is a big deal,” he said. “It’s very exciting to see. And the fact that it’s bipartisan, it has more than half of Congress’s co-sponsors. I hope it comes to the floor soon.”

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) praised the committee for passing the bill, calling on both chambers to move ahead with a full House and Senate vote.