Bernie Sanders signs AOC anti-annexation letter threatening US cuts to Israel military aid

Bernie Sanders signs AOC anti-annexation letter threatening US cuts to Israel military aid
Progressive Democrat and former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has signed a letter threatening cuts to military aid if Israel annexes parts of the occupied West Bank.
3 min read
01 July, 2020
Sanders dropped out of the presidential race in April [Getty]
Top progessive Democrat Bernie Sanders has joined calls by Congreswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for Israel to ditch plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank or face cuts in US military aid.

The Vermont senator was among 11 other signatories to Ocasio-Cortez's letter threatening to slash more than $3 billion in military aid to Israel over the feared move, due to take place on Wednesday.

"Israel's annexation of occupied territory would be a disaster for international law, self-determination, freedom, and equality," Sanders said in a tweet on Tuesday.

"We cannot allow US tax dollars to be used to violate Palestinians' human rights," he added.

Palestinian-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and outspoken Somali-American lawmaker Ilhan Omar also signed the letter addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

From Wednesday, 1 July, the Israeli government can begin steps towards annexing Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley, according to a coalition government deal.

However, Israeli officials - including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - have signalled a delay in the process.

Annexing as much as 30 percent of the West Bank would be illegal under international law and pave "the path toward an apartheid system", Ocasio-Cortez's letter states.

Read more: Thanks to Ocasio-Cortez, Congress could finally hold Israel accountable

"There is no question that the acre by acre de facto annexation since 1967 for the purpose of new Israeli settlements is a blatant attempt to suppress Palestinian identity and nationhood," the letter reads.

"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."

If the Israeli government goes ahead with its annexation plans, "we will work to ensure nonrecognition of annexed territories as well as pursue legislation that conditions the $3.8 billion in US military funding to Israel to ensure that US taxpayers are not supporting annexation in any way", it adds.

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.

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