WASHINGTON – Democrats on Thursday unveiled a bill outlining various actions that Israel may not fund with US taxpayers, while calling for additional oversight of aid distribution.
“Protecting the human rights of Palestinian children and families living under the Israeli Occupation Act” – introduced by Representative Betty McCollum and co-funded by representatives Andre Carson, Danny Davis, Marie Newman, Ilhan Omar, Bobby Rush, Raul Porichalva, Maul Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Cori Bush, Jamaal Bowman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jesús “Chuy”
According to a bill received by Haaretz, it said Israel’s actions “undermine the United States ‘efforts to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians”, while failing to refer to the two countries’ solution to the conflict. a relatively standard legislative language for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The bill requires the Secretary of State and the General Accounting Office to report annually and certify that Israel complies with such measures, although it does not require conditional US assistance to Israel based on potential violations.
The legislation is unlikely to go far, but it is the latest and perhaps most significant example of growing criticism of Israeli policy within the Democratic Party.
According to Gallup’s annual survey of US views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 34 percent of Americans want to see the US government push Israel further on the issue. Most notably, for the first time, a majority of Democrats – 53 percent – now support this approach. In addition, 67 percent of Democrats polled support Palestinian statehood.
“Israel is an ally of the United States, and for the past twenty-five years, Congress has focused on securing funding for Israel’s security, while passing resolutions supporting a two-state solution,” McCollum wrote in a letter to colleagues potentially interested in co-financing. of legislation. “Meanwhile, Israel is expanding its strategic settlements, committing gross human rights abuses against Palestinian children and families, and aggressively undermining any prospects for a Palestinian state. US assistance to Israel’s security must promote peace and must never used to violate the human rights of children, to demolish the homes of Palestinian families or to permanently annex Palestinian lands. ”
McCollum, who has served since 2001, has long been one of the most vocal supporters of Palestinian rights in Congress. She is the author of bills banning US military aid from being used by Israel to detain Palestinian minors and annex territory, although these bills have not received much support other than symbolic. McCollum’s latest bill, unlike previous repetitions, excludes the mention of the Leahy Act, which prohibits military aid to foreign security forces that violate human rights. Instead, it focuses on detailing the necessary oversight and where US assistance should be limited, rather than issuing regulations or penalties.
It should be noted that her latest bill was approved by J Street, which did not support previous repetitions of the bill. The president of the left-wing pro-Israel organization, Jeremy Ben-Ami, recently told Haaretz that his organization plans to “push the envelope” and “consider how to limit the use of US dollars and equipment in these areas and ensure it does not run counter to US interests.” Other progressive Jewish organizations, such as Americans for Peace Now, IfNotNow, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, also backed the latest bill.
The congresswoman’s outspoken position in Minnesota has led to public disagreements with the lobbying group of the Israeli Public Affairs Committee, perhaps the most powerful pro-Israeli organization in Washington, as well as opposition from other Israeli organizations. AIPAC called the latest bill “unnecessary and redundant,” saying it would “condition aid to Israel, undermine US interests and make peace smaller.” McCollum dismissed the criticism, saying “AIPAC want Taxpayers’ US dollars for Israel to be spent on abusing Palestinian human rights? Closing children? Demolition of homes? Annexation of Palestinian land? Obviously they do. ”
The Democratic Majority for Israel advocacy group also personally criticized McCollum, rejecting its legislation. “Unfortunately, it’s no surprise that Betty McCollum, who regularly seeks to delegitimize Israel, introduces another in a series of one-sided, demagogic bills against Israel – this puts civilians at risk,” said DMFI CEO Mark Melman. calling the bill “a fictional effort to incite hostility toward Israel.”
Representative Andre Carson, one of the co-sponsors of the bill, told Haaretz on Thursday: “The United States does not provide unconditional assistance and support. I am proud to rejoin Representative McCollum in sponsoring this legislation to strengthen oversight of US aid. Israeli military abuses against Palestinian children are well documented, including in official documents in the Israeli security authority.America must use its influence and relations with Israel to stop these harmful actions.It is imperative to bring US dollars I call on the Biden administration to take a more proactive approach and to plan its engagement with both the future government in Israel and the Palestinian Authority in order to help the taxpayers in line with our values of promoting and protecting human rights worldwide. is committed to resolving some of the problems in the conflict. ”