Mr. Speaker, today, I am introducing legislation, along with Congresswoman Nita Lowey, in an effort to correct a grave injustice being committed against our friend and ally in the Middle East; Israel.
Many of my colleagues may not be aware that a number of nations have not established full diplomatic relations with Israel. Israel currently maintains diplomatic relations with 162 countries. Approximately 25 countries do not have any diplomatic relations with Israel at all. Another 4 countries have only limited relations.
In order for Israel to be a full member of the world community, she must establish diplomatic relations. The Israeli Embassy tells me that Israel is actively seeking to establish and upgrade their relations with several countries. This has proven difficult with many of the Islamic nations, such as Pakistan and Indonesia.
In 1994, Representative Lee Hamilton had language included in the State Department Foreign Relations FY94-95 Authorization bill that stated the Secretary of State should make the issue of Israel's diplomatic relations a priority and urge countries that receive U.S. assistance to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel.
Unfortunately, despite this provision, the U.S. government has not made this issue a priority.
At the beginning of this year, during an International Relations Committee hearing, I asked Secretary of State Madeleine Albright about Israel's diplomatic relations with countries receiving U.S. assistance. The Secretary replied that she considers Israel's relations with the world community and other nations essential to peace and stability and has been actively encouraging countries, such as Indonesia, to establish full relations with Israel. I could not agree more.
I believe the U.S. should be doing everything possible to help Israel establish these relations. In fact, Congresswoman Lowey and I worked together to include a provision in the Report to the FY 2001 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that urges Israel's Arab neighbors to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel.
However, more needs to be done. That is why Congresswoman Lowey and I are introducing the ``Israel Diplomatic Relations Act,'' to help promote Israel's role in the international community.
Our legislation spells out clearly the importance of Israel's status in the international community and the need for Israel to receive the recognition she deserves. It also requires an annual report to Congress by the U.S. Department of State on U.S. government activities to help promote Israel's diplomatic relations in the world community.
This report is of critical importance because it will require our embassies to focus attention on Israel's diplomatic relations.
I urge my colleagues to help us promote peace and stability in the Middle East by supporting and cosponsoring this critical legislation.
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