US WILPF Signs Letter Opposing Budget Request for Aid to Israel

TO: Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

The undersigned organizations are writing to urge you to oppose the President’s FY2010 budget request for $2.775 billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) for Israel, an increase of $225 million in military aid compared to FY2009.  At this time of acute economic crisis, as well as from a political, legal, security, and moral standpoint, our country should not continue to provide Israel with this blank check.

Israel consistently misuses U.S. weapons purchased through FMF to commit grave human rights abuses against Palestinians and systematic violations of international law in its illegal 42-year military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. Some of those violations are documented every year in the State Department's own human rights reports; far more are documented by the United Nations and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. 

These actions include, but are not limited to, the deliberate killing and injuring of Palestinian civilians; the deliberate destruction of Palestinian civilian infrastructure, including homes, schools, roads, factories, hospitals and more; the imposition of collective punishment on Palestinians through a siege of the Gaza Strip and numerous travel restrictions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem; the ongoing expansion of its wall/fence barrier in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, ruled to be illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004; and the expansion of illegal settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.  

Most seriously, during the Bush Administration, Israel killed more than 3,000 Palestinian civilians who took no part in hostilities, including more than 1,000 children.  During its December-January war on the Gaza Strip alone, Israel killed nearly 1,200 Palestinian non-combatants. Israel killed many of these innocent Palestinian civilians with U.S. weapons, including F-16 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, as well as aviation jet fuel, all  paid for by U.S. taxpayers.  

U.S. foreign assistance programs should meet human needs, not enable human rights violations.  Israel’s egregious human rights record and the devastating impact of U.S. weapons transfers to Israel on innocent Palestinian civilians should trigger sanctions under U.S. laws that would prohibit future military aid to Israel. 

The Arms Export Control Act strictly limits the use of U.S. weapons to “internal security” and “legitimate self-defense” and the Foreign Assistance Act prohibits aid to a country which “engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights”.  

We believe that Israel should not receive any military aid as a result of its violations of these U.S. laws.  However, there are still steps short of cutting off military aid to Israel which Congress should take to achieve U.S. policy goals. 

At a minimum, Congress should condition military aid to Israel on its progress toward achieving the President’s stated goals of ending the siege of the Gaza Strip, ending all settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and engaging in a credible negotiating process that results in a just and lasting peace. 

Without the United States using its tremendous leverage over Israel to achieve these goals, it is highly doubtful that Israel will change its poor behavior.  As the country bankrolling Israel’s military occupation and human rights abuses against Palestinians, the United States is complicit in those violations.  Now is the time for accountability.

Signed by,

1. Council for the National Interest
2. Council on American-Islamic Relations
3. Friends of Sabeel—North America
4. Progressive Democrats of America
5. US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
6. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom—U.S. Section

 

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