Four Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives have been circulating a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, threatening the conditioning or even cutting off of U.S. assistance to Israel if the Jewish state goes ahead with its plans to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank in what many have said would be an annexation of the area, also known as Judea and Samaria.
The letter has been issued by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.).
In the letter, the progressive members of Congress, citing unspecified “leading human rights experts,” warn that “annexing parts of the West Bank will perpetuate and entrench human rights violations against Palestinians including limitations on freedom of movement, mass expropriation of privately-owned Palestinian land, further expansion of illegal settlements, continued demolitions of Palestinian homes, and a loss of Palestinian control over their natural resources.”
The letter accuses Israel of “paving the path toward an apartheid system” since it won’t grant citizenship to Palestinians living in annexed territory,” despite the Palestinians being under the control of the Palestinian Authority, known for corruption, human-rights abuses and supporting terrorism against Israelis.
“The U.S. should work to build a future in which all Palestinians and Israelis live under full equality by upholding a foreign policy that centers human rights and dignity for all people,” states the letter. “We therefore call on you to use a combination of pressure and incentives to stop Israel’s plans to illegally annex the West Bank, which would ensure a worsening of the situation for all Palestinians and Israelis.”
The Congress members warn that if Israel were to go ahead with annexation, which the Israeli government has said it will do some time after July 1, “we will work to ensure non-recognition as well as pursue conditions on the $3.8 billion in U.S. military funding to Israel, including human rights conditions and withholding funds for the off-shore 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.”
In an action alert email on Monday, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee called the letter “one-sided” and “directly threatens the U.S.-Israel relationship,” “supports conditioning and cutting America’s security assistance commitment to Israel” and “would damage American interests, risk the security of Israel and make a two-state solution less likely.”