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Bill targets Gaza killers of Americans

A U.S. House of Representatives bill would require periodic updates on Palestinian Authority efforts to apprehend terrorists who killed three Americans in a diplomatic convoy. John Branchizio, Mark Parson and John Marin Linde, security personnel guarding U.S. diplomats in the region, were killed by a bomb while accompanying an envoy traveling through the Gaza Strip in 2003. The killings prompted U.S. diplomats to avoid Gaza and dealt a blow to U.S. confidence in P.A. forces to control the area and secure any peace agreement. The bill introduced Monday by U.S. Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) states that “the continued inability or unwillingness of the Palestinian Authority to actively and aggressively pursue the Palestinian terrorists” calls into question “the Palestinian Authority’s suitability as a partner for the United States in diplomatic efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.” It also said that future U.S. aid to the region might be suspended or terminated if the P.A. government does not make headway in the investigation. The bill would require periodic updates from the U.S. secretary of state on the status of the investigation. No progress has been made in the case, despite claims by the Palestinian Authority that it was looking into the matter. The United States Rewards for Justice program is offering up to $5 million for information that could lead to the identification or arrest of those involved. The bill has a strong start: Lantos chairs the House’s Foreign Affairs committee, Pence is its ranking member and Ackerman chairs its Middle East subcommittee.

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