U.S. representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez penned a letter opposing Israel’s annexation proposals of Palestinian land with the backing of a dozen lawmakers and is gathering legislators’ signatures on a letter urging the Trump administration to take steps to block Israel’s planned annexation. A coalition of progressive Democratic politicians, rights groups and Jewish groups are also calling for withholding US military aid to Israel in response to planned annexation of Palestinian territories by Israel.
The letter addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the annexation would “lay the groundwork for Israel becoming an apartheid state,” and pledges that the lawmakers would work to block future aid to Israel.
Ocasio-Cortez’s office said the trigger for conditioning aid includes settlements and other policies that are “laying the groundwork” for annexation.
“The United States must remain committed to a future in which all Israelis and Palestinians live with full rights, dignity, and democracy,” Ocasio-Cortez and a dozen other legislators said in the letter.
“We therefore urge you to make clear to the Israeli government that such a move is unacceptable,” they said in the letter.
“We will include human rights conditions and the withholding of funds for the offshore procurement of Israeli weapons equal to or exceeding the amount the Israeli government spends annually to fund settlements, as well as the policies and practices that sustain and enable them,” the letter also stated.
“Members of Congress should not be expected to support an undemocratic system in which Israel would permanently rule over a Palestinian people denied self-determination or equal rights.”
The statement was endorsed by more than 20 advocacy groups, including the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), Arab American Institute (AAI), CodePink, Jewish Voice for Peace Action and IfNotNow.
Senator Bernie Sanders and other progressives who signed the letter issued statements opposing annexation in strong terms.“I have long believed that the United States needs to engage in an even-handed approach toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Sanders said in a statement.
Israel’s annexation of occupied territory would be a disaster for international law, self-determination, freedom and equality.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) June 30, 2020
Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American, said the Netanyahu government uses aid “to formalize an apartheid system.”
“Unilateral annexation is a violation of international law, a violation of Palestinian human rights, and directly counter to American values of democracy and self-determination,” Rep. Ilhan Omar said.
Annexation violates international law, Palestinian human rights, and runs counter to U.S. values of democracy and self-determination.
We must fight for a future where both Palestinians and Israelis can live side by side in peace.
Annexation will make that impossible. https://t.co/mF7qEx0IkN
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) June 30, 2020
Five other letters are circulating in the US Jewish community demanding accountability for the Israeli government and concrete actions by US Jewish institutions if a planned annexation goes forward. Those letters have drawn more than 3,200 signatures, according to IfNotNow, a US Jewish group that opposes the occupation. “It is time to stop holding America’s number one recipient of military funding – Israel – to a lower standard than we hold all other countries, exempting it from consequences when it violates our most basic values,” said Emily Mayer, political director of IfNotNow.
The letter was condemned by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee as harmful to America’s interests before the statement or its signers were finalized.
Netanyahu aims to start the process of annexation by Wednesday, saying he wants to begin annexing West Bank territory in line with President Trump’s plans. But with recent developments and stiff international criticism, it’s uncertain whether Israel will ultimately follow through on the explosive annexation initiative.