40 National Orgs. Tell Congress, “Freeze Military Aid to Israel Until Israel Freezes Settlements”

Washington, DC (June 16, 2009) — As the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs prepares to mark up the FY2010 budget tomorrow, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation sent today an open letter to subcommittee members calling on them to cut off or, at the minimum, condition military aid to Israel to achieve U.S. policy goals.

Nearly 40 prominent national organizations and more than 150 local organizations in 32 states have signed this open letter opposing President Obama’s FY2010 budget request for $2.775 billion in military aid to Israel.  The letter, which can be read in full here, comes in the midst of the Obama Administration’s demand that the Israeli government freeze all settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a precondition for peace talks.  The letter argues that military aid to Israel should at the very least be conditioned on Israel’s “progress toward achieving the President’s stated goals of ending the siege of the Gaza Strip, ending all settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and engaging in a credible negotiating process that results in a just and lasting peace.”

The letter is signed by a wide range of prominent national organizations, including Code Pink Women for Peace, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Jewish Voice for Peace, Council on American Islamic Relations, Progressive Democrats of America, Gold Star Families for Peace, Veterans for Peace, United for Peace and Justice, and the Student/Farmworker Alliance.  In addition, subcommittee members received a total of approximately 250,000 individual emails and letters backing the demands of the open letter.  “At this time of acute economic crisis,” the letter reads, “as well as from a political, legal, security, and moral standpoint, our country should not continue to provide Israel with this blank check.”

“Congress should support President Obama’s initiatives to end Israeli settlement building, lift the siege of Gaza, and establish a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis,” says Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.  “The best way to do this is for Congress to leverage the power of the purse by cutting off or, at the minimum, conditioning military aid to Israel to achieve these goals.  To give Israel another $2.775 billion in weapons this budget year will only increase Israeli intransigence and doom the President’s important initiatives.”

The Obama Administration issued its FY2010 budget request on May 8.  The $2.775 billion request for military aid to Israel is an increase of $225 million compared to FY2009. The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has long opposed military aid to Israel, which is used by Israel to violate human rights and international law and represents a drain on much-needed financial resources during this economic crisis.

This open letter is part of a growing movement to hold Israel accountable for its misuse of U.S. weapons to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians.  During Israel’s December-January war on the occupied Gaza Strip, Israel misused U.S. weapons to kill more than 1,300 Palestinians, injure more than 5,000, and destroy an estimated $2 billion in civilian infrastructure.  Continued military aid to Israel is thus in direct violation of the Arms Control Export Act, which stipulates that military aid can only be used for legitimate self-defense and internal security.  In January, Rep. Dennis Kucinich requested the State Department to investigate Israel’s violations of the Arms Export Control Act.  The US Campaign also organized this year a Capitol Hill policy briefing focusing on Israel’s misuse of U.S. weapons against Palestinian civilians, which is available by clicking here.

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is a national coalition of more than 280 organizations working to change to U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine to support human rights, international law, and equality.  For more information about the US Campaign, please click here.