AOC threatens Israel with US military aid cuts if West Bank annexation goes ahead

AOC threatens Israel with US military aid cuts if West Bank annexation goes ahead
US Democratic Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib have called on Washington to ditch military aid to Israel in the event of annexation.
3 min read
30 June, 2020
The Israeli government could begin steps towards annexation as soon as July 1 [Getty]
US Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was on Monday among four progressive lawmakers urging Washington to slash military aid to Israel if it goes ahead with plans to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank.

President Donald Trump's administration is seen as having given a green light to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to annex large swathes of the occupied Palestinian territories, pegged to begin as early as Wednesday.

In a letter addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Ocasio-Cortez and three other House Democrats warned that the land grab of Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley territories could "lay the groundwork for Israel becoming an apartheid state".

Annexation would be a "clear violation" of international law that could "perpetuate and entrench human rights violations" against Palestinians, the lawmakers said.

"We call on you to take all necessary action available to reverse course on this proposal," read a copy of the letter published by Jewish Insider.

This version of the letter is not finalised and is currently being circulated by Ocasio-Cortez to attract further signatories.

Read more: True to form, Israel will carry out annexation in stages

"The US 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," the letter reads.

If the Israeli government goes ahead with its annexation plans, "we will work to ensure non-recognition as well as pursue conditions on the $3.8 billion in US military funding to Israel", the lawmakers said.

Prominent Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman to be elected to the House, was among the letter's signatories alongside Pramila Jayapal and Betty McCollum.

Last week, a majority of House Democrats signed a letter warning Israel against annexing parts of the occupied West Bank but falling short of threatening cuts to aid.

"Our fear is that unilateral actions, taken by either side, will push the parties further from negotiations and the possibility of a final, negotiated agreement," read the letter signed by 191 of 233 Democratic Congress members. 

On Monday, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) voiced its opposition to the letter being circulated by Ocasio-Cortez, who is widely known by her initials, AOC.

The letter "explicitly threatens the US-Israel relationship in ways that would damage American interests, risk the security of Israel and make a two-state solution less likely", the prominent pro-Israel lobby group said.

"Our lone, stable, democratic ally in the Middle East faces unprecedented threats and challenges, and American support is critical to ensuring our strategic partner remains strong and secure. Annual security assistance helps ensure Israel can defend itself, by itself," it said in a statement.

The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) welcomed the letter, calling the sentiments expressed as "long overdue in American politics".

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