United States Congressional Representatives are pushing to condition military assistance to Israel as a measure to the Jewish bid to annex parts of the hotly contested West Bank.
The annexation of the Jordan Valley is the proposed application of Israeli sovereignty over Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley. The idea has been advocated by some Israeli politicians since the Israeli occupation of the West Bank began in 1967, most notably with the Allon Plan and the 2019 Netanyahu plan.
The Jordan Valley is a fertile strip of land that stretches from the north of the Dead Sea along the eastern perimeter of the West Bank, bordering Jordan. It is home to 65,000 Palestinians in 28 villages and 11,000 Israelis.
U.S. Democratic lawmakers have signed on to a hotly debated letter spearheaded by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that calls for placing conditions on aid to Israel if it proceeds with the annexation.
The letter, addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, also said that annexation “would actively harm prospects for a future in which all Israelis and Palestinians can live with full equality, human rights and dignity, and would lay the groundwork for Israel becoming an apartheid state, as your predecessor John Kerry warned in 2014.”
“Should the Israeli government continue down this path, we will work to ensure non-recognition of annexed territories as well as 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,” Ocasio-Cortez’s letter reads.
“We will include human rights conditions and the withholding of funds for the offshore 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,” she warned.
A new approach
Analysts say the letter is the first solution-based statement issued by any Democratic member of Congress that offers a clear legislative plan of action should Israel ignore increasing international pressure and move forward with formal annexation.
The current letter is hardly the first statement issued by Democrats on the topic. Democrats have signed a separate letter voicing opposition to Israeli annexation.
This followed a different Senate letter warning against annexation, signed by 19 Democratic members. Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has also repeatedly voiced his concerns. However, the statement stands in stark contrast to statements, which are little more than political smoke and mirrors according to Miko Zeldes-Roth is a member of IfNotNow.
“By virtue of controlling the U.S. budget and determining US military funding to Israel, Congress has tremendous capacity to influence if and how annexation occurs. The US currently gives Israel over $3 billion in military funding annually—by far the most it awards to any country. For three decades, the U.S. has distributed military funding to Israel without conditions, irrespective of Israeli human rights abuses towards Palestinians,” he said.