June 30, 2020
Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (Reuters)
Four House Democrats have written to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling on the United States to cut assistance to Israel should it proceed to apply sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, JTA reported on Monday.
The letter was initiated by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Betty McCollum of Minnesota.
The letter to Pompeo is circulating among Democrats in a bid to add signatures.
"Should the Israeli government move forward with the planned annexation with this administration's acquiescence, 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," it says, according to a copy obtained by Jewish Insider.
In response to the letter, AIPAC has launched a campaign against it, saying on Twitter on Monday that it "explicitly threatens the US-Israel relationship in ways that would damage American interests, risk the security of Israel & make a two-state solution less likely."
An action alert urged activists from AIPAC to contact their representatives to oppose the letter.
Democrats have been vocal in their opposition to Israel's plan to apply sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria, which could occur as soon as Wednesday following the coalition agreement between the Likud and Blue and White parties.
Earlier this month, a group of Democratic Senators, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), issued a statement in which they expressed their opposition to the sovereignty move.
The senators noted that direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians are "the only path for a durable peace." They warned that annexation "could undermine regional stability and broader US national security interests in the region."
Last month, 19 Senate Democrats sent a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz in which they warn against an Israeli move to apply sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently warned that a unilateral Israeli move to apply sovereignty over Judea and Samaria would undermine American national security interests and harm bipartisan support for Israel in America.
Ocasio-Cortez, who is signed on to the latest letter, has come under fire for several controversial statements involving Israel.
In September, the freshman Congresswoman criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in an interview with Israel's Channel 12 News while arguing that criticizing Israel's policies is not being anti-Semitic.
.@aoc on Israel : "the Netanyahu administration has been pursuing a lot of extraordinarily concerning policies". Tells us her criticism is being intentionally conflated with anti-semitism. Video: pic.twitter.com/M5GqwbfjbE— ???? ??????? yuna leibzon (@YunaLeibzon) September 2, 2019
In a radio interview in August, Ocasio-Cortez said that Israel is "criminal" in its treatment of Palestinian Arabs, whom she said have no other choice but to "riot" against the Jewish state.
Last April, she said that cutting military and economic aid to Israel as a way to signal opposition to Israeli policies should be "on the table."
Tlaib is no stranger to controversial comments about Israel either. Tlaib claimed in an interview last year that Palestinian Arabs living in the British Mandate prior to the establishment of the State of Israel "provided" a safe haven to Jews after the Holocaust.
In addition, when asked in a past television interview whether she would vote against military aid to Israel when she goes to Congress, Tlaib replied, "Absolutely."
In August, Israel announced it would bar entry to Tlaib and fellow Muslim Congress woman Ilhan Omar over their support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
McCollum has in the past sponsored a bill that would link Israel's assistance to its treatment of Palestinian Arab juvenile detainees.
McCollum publicly rebuked AIPAC in 2006 after a lay leader of the group lashed out at her for backing funding for Palestinian Arabs.
Earlier this year, she called AIPAC a "hate group" inciting against her after the Israel lobby featured her in an attack ad.