3rd Thursday Middle East Action Alert (Sept. 2021): Tell Congress to pass H.R. 2590
Israel’s new government is in place and its Prime Minister, Neftali Bennett, visited President Biden in the White House late last month, attempting to reset Israeli-US relations. Bennett has voiced his opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state and his support for settlement expansion in the West Bank, both of which are in contradiction of international laws and conventions, and conflict with Biden’s own approach. Even so, Biden asserted the “unshakable” nature of the US-Israel relationship, and pledged that the “US will always be there for Israel.” As Bennett and Biden seek to establish an amicable rapport, a just and lasting solution for Palestinians and Israelis seems as distant as ever, with neither leader seemingly intent on engaging the core issues.
Meanwhile, with the federal fiscal year coming to a close at the end of this month and next year’s federal budget due, it is an opportune time to consider allocations to advance foreign policy priorities. President Biden has made clear that human rights, equality, and democracy are, for him, guiding principles in US foreign policy, and he has demonstrated some willingness to do so, holding up arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates over their involvement in the Yemen civil war. It is time to hold Israel accountable to human rights standards and adopt H.R. 2590 that addresses Israeli violations as well.
In May, Rep Betty McCollum introduced the “Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation.” Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, along with many others churches and Christian agencies, have offered support of this resolution, which would prohibit Israeli use of US aid to detain, abuse, or ill-treat Palestinian children in Israeli detention; to seize or destroy Palestinian homes and property; and to annex Palestinian land and territory, all of which violate international humanitarian law. To date, the resolution has 29 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.
This fall, children in the Northern Hemisphere started a new school year. In the first week of school in Bethlehem, four Palestinian youth were arrested in a night raid, and Israel has withheld information about those detentions from their families – in violation of Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel and the US are both signatories. Already in September, Israel has demolished at least three Palestinian homes and properties in Silwan and in the Bethlehem area. And PM Bennett’s intention to continue settlement expansion is a form of de facto annexation of Palestinian land that Israel has undertaken for decades.
Israel must be held accountable and the US has the leverage to do so, given the Administration’s stated commitment to human rights, existing US foreign assistance laws, and the aid that the US sends to Israel. Urge your Congressional representative to support H.R. 2590 to prevent using your taxes to support violations of international human rights law.