3rd Thursday Alert: During August recess, ask Congress to ensure US funds do not support annexation

3rd_Thursday_logo.jpgWith U.S. support, on August 13 Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced normalization of diplomatic relations, with Israel agreeing to “suspend” annexation of West Bank lands. After the announcement Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clarified that he sees the suspension only as a delay, not an end to Israel’s annexation plans. The suspension will also not halt Israel’s de facto annexation and ongoing military occupation, as Israel continues to build illegal settlements in the West Bank, demolish Palestinian homes, and violate Palestinians’ rights.

With Congress on recess in August, please take advantage of the opportunity to meet with your congressional representatives. Although in-person meetings are generally not possible right now due to COVID restrictions, Congressional offices continue to meet virtually with their constituents. Many Members of Congress and candidates are also holding virtual town halls, which provides another important opportunity to engage with them.

Throughout the summer, an increasing number of Members of Congress expressed opposition to using US funds to implement Israeli annexation. In July fourteen Senators supported an amendment to the annual defense authorization bill, led by Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), to stipulate that US security assistance to Israel could not be used to implement unilateral annexation.

In addition to Sen. Van Hollen, the amendment’s sponsors included: Sen. Leahy (D-Vt.), Sen. Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Murphy (D-Conn.), Sen. Udall (D-N.M.), Sen. Schatz (D-Hawaii), Sen. Heinrich (D-N.M.), Sen. Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Sen. Carper (D-Del.), Sen. Merkley (D-Ore.), Sen. Kaine (D-Va.), Sen. Brown (D-Ohio) and Sen. Durbin (D-Ill.). While the amendment did not receive a vote, it sent an important signal to the Israeli government that Senators are watching their actions closely. If your Senator supported the Van Hollen amendment, please take a moment to thank him or her.

Other Members of Congress signaled that if Israel moves forward with annexation, they will “pursue legislation that conditions the $3.8 billion in U.S. military funding to Israel to ensure that U.S. taxpayers are not supporting annexation in any way.” The Members note that annexation “would actively harm prospects for a future in which all Israelis and Palestinians can live with full equality, human rights and dignity.”

On August 14, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) introduced legislation to prevent the U.S. from recognizing Israeli sovereignty over annexed territories. Please encourage your House member to co-sponsor H.R. 8050, the Israeli Annexation Non-Recognition Act.

In July, Kairos Palestine and Global Kairos for Justice, a broad network of allies including Palestinian Christians and Christians worldwide, issued an urgent call, saying “we have arrived at a critical point in the struggle to end the oppression of the Palestinian people.” The statement continued, “it is incumbent upon us as followers of Jesus to take decisive action. The very being of the church, the integrity of the Christian faith, and the credibility of the Gospel is at stake.”

As Christians in the United States, it is critical that we tell Congress to use its power of the purse to stop Israel’s annexation of Palestinian territory and to end violations of Palestinian rights. Israel currently receives more US foreign aid than any other nation – $3.8 billion a year.

During the August recess, please ask Congress to ensure US funds are not used to implement Israeli annexation of the West Bank in any form, including de facto annexation such as the demolition of homes and the seizure of land. If your Members of Congress have already spoken out on the issue, please thank them for doing so.

Feel free to use the following suggested text if helpful in communicating with your elected officials. Note that there are two separate letters for Senate and House. The text can be adapted to serve as talking points for direct meetings. 

Dear Senator ….,  

I am deeply concerned by the potential Israeli annexation of Palestinian land, which Prime Minister Netanyahu says he intends to still carry out, even with the recent Israeli agreement with the United Arab Emirates. Annexation, whether carried out by formal decree or in practice, is a clear violation of international law and against the principles of upholding human rights and dignity. Please make clear that the US will not subsidize Israeli occupation and appropriation of Palestinian land.

I was disappointed to see that the amendment introduced by Senator Van Hollen to the National Defense Authorization Act did not receive a vote. The amendment would have prohibited Israel from using U.S. security assistance funds to unilaterally annex Palestinian territory in the West Bank. I urge you to support similar legislative efforts in the future to ensure that US taxpayers are not complicit in Israel’s human rights violations.

As US Christian leaders wrote to Congress this past June, “Respect for human rights, compliance with international law, and achievement of peace with justice is essential not only for the security and wellbeing of Palestinians, but for that of Israelis as well.”

Please stand up for democratic values, human rights, and international law by ensuring that US taxpayer funds are not used to implement annexation and that all applicable human rights conditions on US assistance are enforced.

Thank you for hearing my perspective.

Sincerely,

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Dear Representative ….,  

I am deeply concerned by the potential Israeli annexation of Palestinian land, which Prime Minister Netanyahu says he intends to still carry out, even with the recent Israeli agreement with the United Arab Emirates. Annexation, whether carried out by formal decree or in practice, is a clear violation of international law and against the principles of upholding human rights and dignity. Please make clear that the US will not subsidize Israeli occupation and appropriation of Palestinian land.

I was encouraged to see the recent introduction of H.R. 8050, the Israeli Annexation Non-Recognition Act, to prevent US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over annexed lands. I hope that you will consider co-sponsoring this legislation.

As US Christian leaders wrote to Congress this past June, “Respect for human rights, compliance with international law, and achievement of peace with justice is essential not only for the security and wellbeing of Palestinians, but for that of Israelis as well.”

Please stand up for democratic values, human rights, and international law by ensuring that US taxpayer funds are not used to implement annexation and that all applicable human rights conditions on US assistance are enforced.

Thank you for hearing my perspective.

Sincerely,


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