Congressman Doyle joining Action Housing, Jewish Residential Services, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, the Bank of New York Mellon, and the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh in breaking ground for a new affordable housing facility in Squirrel Hill. (Photo courtesy of Action Housing)
Over the past few weeks, I have received some questions from constituents about my support for H.R. 4391, the Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act, and concerns that my co-sponsorship of this bill represents a shift in my position toward Israel and Middle East policy.
I want to assure you — in the strongest terms possible — that the safety and security of Israel is my highest priority when it comes to the Middle East, as it has been throughout my 24 years of service in Congress. That has not changed, and it will not change.
I have always believed that the best way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and achieve lasting safety and security for Israel, is through a two-state solution.
Over my 12 terms in Congress, I have voted in favor of and cosponsored more bills than I can count that have been supportive of Israel — from House resolutions recognizing the special relationship between the United States and Israel to the latest defense agreement pledging $38 billion in military aid to Israel.
Just this Congress, I voted for — and the House passed — H.R. 3542, the Hamas Human Shields Prevention Act. This bill condemns Hamas’ use of human shields as an act of terrorism and a violation of human rights and international humanitarian law. It imposes sanctions upon members of Hamas and any person or entity that supports Hamas and facilitates their use of human shields. I look forward to its passage in the Senate and the president signing this bill into law.
Similarly, I supported and voted for the Taylor Force Act as included in the final budget agreement, which did become law. The Taylor Force Act, S. 3414, will withhold funding to the Palestinian Authority until it ends its martyr payments — payments made to the families of individuals who attack Israel.
I have approached each piece of legislation in the same way: Will this help promote the security of Israel and is it consistent with our values?
I approached H.R. 4391 in the same way. This bill does not seek to impose any sanctions upon Israel, and in fact, funding is not reduced at all. The bill states that U.S. funds cannot be used to support the mistreatment of children and minors “in violation of international humanitarian law.” Under international humanitarian law, you can detain minors who are legitimately suspected or accused of criminal or terrorist activity.
This bill is not a sanction bill, and it is not a BDS bill. My co-sponsorship of H.Res. 23 clearly states my opposition to the BDS movement, and any one-sided or anti-Israel resolutions from the U.N. Security Council.
My strong support of Israel has not changed. I am committed to upholding our shared values of international law and human rights. Israel is one of our closest friends and allies, in a part of the world where friends are few and far between. We rely on Israel to represent the same democratic ideals in the Middle East that we do here in America. Neither of our countries are perfect, but that does not mean that we should not continue to try.
In closing, I would like to thank all of you who have reached out with comments, questions or concerns about this bill. Over the years I have developed many constructive relationships with leaders and advocates in the Jewish community in Pittsburgh. I look forward to continuing our conversation and working to promote our shared goals. PJC
U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, a Democrat, represents Pennsylvania’s 14th Congressional District, which is based in Pittsburgh and comprises most of Allegheny County. Follow the Chronicle on Facebook and Twitter for the latest stories.