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November 19, 2021 10:24 am

Bipartisan Lawmakers Endorse Bill to Thwart Funding Hamas Via Cryptocurrency

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Palestinian police officers loyal to Hamas march during a graduation ceremony in Gaza City, April 29, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa. – A bill aimed to cut off funding of the Hamas terror group that rules the Gaza Strip was endorsed on Wednesday by the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus.

The Hamas International Financing Prevention Act would create sanctions against foreign individuals, organizations and governments that assist Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) or their affiliates.

The effort was led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), caucus co-chair and author of the bill, and Rep. Van Taylor (R-Texas), who brought the legislation for endorsement, garnering support from 75 percent of the members.

“I’m honored that the Problem Solvers Caucus endorsed my bipartisan legislation, the Hamas International Financing Prevention Act. With their support, the Caucus reinforced just how critical it is that the United States and our allies continue to isolate terrorist groups including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and cut them off at the source,” said Gottheimer in a news release on Wednesday. “This bill will strengthen sanctions to weaken these terrorist organizations which threaten our key ally Israel, undermine peace and further destabilize the Middle East. I hope Congress will come together to pass this critical piece of legislation in our fight against terror.”

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Gottheimer introduced the bill in the House of Representatives on June 4. It has remained in the House Foreign Affairs and Financial Services committees ever since but has garnered 92 co-sponsors: 61 Republicans and 31 Democrats.

He drafted it after reports that terrorist organizations—namely, Hamas and PIJ—had seen a surge in donations made using cryptocurrency after the organizations launched more than 4,000 rockets from Gaza at Israeli population centers for 11 days in May.

“Foreign support to Hamas and its affiliate militant groups undercut our nation’s efforts to promote peace and stability throughout the Middle East,” Caucus Co-Chair Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) said in a release. “The bipartisan Hamas International Financing Prevention Act sends a clear message that the United States will not tolerate individuals and institutions who provide financial support to terrorist organizations like Hamas.”

Under the bill, Congress will require an annual report from the president for the next three years, identifying people, agencies and nations that knowingly assist Hamas and other terrorist entities in Gaza. The president would then be required to impose two or more sanctions on those identified in the report.

The United States will suspend assistance to nations or organizations found in violation of the law and instruct executives at financial institutions to vote against any loan or technical assistance to that entity.

The bill will also prohibit munitions exports to that government for one year.

“We cannot allow the emergence of cryptocurrency to provide a loophole for Hamas and other terrorist groups to finance their operations,” said Taylor. “The Hamas International Financing Prevention Act strengthens our anti-terrorism sanctions that help protect America, and our ally Israel, from those who seek to destroy democracy and plot attacks that murder innocent civilians.”

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