WASHINGTON – A group of 13 Senate Democrats has filed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prohibit Israel from using US security assistance funds for the annexation of parts of the West Bank.
Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) spearheaded the amendment. He was joined by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT), among others.
“I am a strong supporter of robust security assistance to our friend and ally Israel, including the Memorandum of Understanding forged by president Obama, providing $3.8 billion in annual Foreign Military Financing and missile defense support,” Van Hollen said in a statement. “However, I oppose the use of any of these funds to support the unilateral annexation of Palestinian territories by Israel,” Van Hollen said that neither the US government nor American taxpayers should finance or facilitate the move.
“No US funds are currently being expended on unilateral annexation, and this amendment would ensure that remains the case,” he added. “We must work together to pursue a viable, negotiated, two-state solution.”
The amendment states that “None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by the United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act… may be obligated or expended to deploy or support the deployment of United States defense articles, services, or training to territories in the West Bank unilaterally annexed by Israel after July 1, 2020, or to facilitate the unilateral annexation of such territories.”
The Democratic Majority for America PAC responded to Van Hollen, and tweeted: “[we] appreciate your support for robust security assistance for Israel...but, there is no US aid to Israel that could pay for annexation, which we too hope will not go forward.”
Murphy said in a statement that “For nearly two decades, the United States has called for a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. So why would we reverse course now? There is no way unilateral annexation of the West Bank by Israel will bring the region any closer to peace – in fact, it will do the opposite – and the United States should have no role in encouraging it.”
Sanders, who earlier this week was the only senator to sign a letter alongside 12 other members of the House, voiced in his statement a similar message to the words he tweeted earlier this week. “Israel’s annexation of occupied Palestinian territory would be a disaster for human rights, international law, self-determination and equality,” he said. “American taxpayers shouldn’t be supporting policies that undermine our values and interests, in Israel, in Palestine, or anywhere. We should be supporting an end to the conflict and helping build a future of security and prosperity for both peoples.”
Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia strongly opposed the move and warned that it could “destroy the prospect for a two-state solution, negatively impact Israel’s future and betray our shared democratic values by denying Palestinians’ right to self-determination.”