US congresswoman reintroduces bill tying US aid to Israel to human rights

US congresswoman reintroduces bill tying US aid to Israel to human rights
US Congresswoman Betty McCollum has reintroduced a bill that would tie US aid to Israel to its human and civil rights practices. Though the legislation is unlikely to pass, it is nevertheless a sign of growing support of Palestinians in Congress.
3 min read
Washington, D.C.
09 May, 2023
There is growing support for Palestinian human rights in US Congress [Getty]

US Representative Betty McCollum of Minnesota has reintroduced a bill that seeks to make US aid to Israel conditional on its human rights practices, an initiative that does not appear to have any likelihood of becoming law.

The legislation, "Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act," aims to hinge Israeli human rights accountability to US foreign aid.

Given the special relationship between the US and Israel, it is difficult to see how the bill would pass. Nevertheless, there are some instances in which a congress members decides to put forth a piece of legislation in order to raise awareness of an issue and give a sense of the issue's support.

"While it might not pass in Congress, it's a signal to McCollum's colleagues in the House to ensure that not one dollar of US aid to Israel goes to violating US law or the dignity of Palestinians," Robert McCaw, government affairs director with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told The New Arab.

The legislation would bar the Israeli government from using US taxpayer money in the occupied territories for detention, abuse, or the mistreatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention.

It would also bar the seizure and the destruction of Palestinian property and homes, and it would prohibit assistance for the annexation of Palestinian land in violation of international humanitarian law.

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"Not $1 of US aid should be used to commit human rights violations, demolish families’ homes, or permanently annex Palestinian lands," McCollum said in a press release issued by her office earlier this month.

"The United States provides billions in assistance for Israel's government each year - and those dollars should go toward Israel's security, not toward actions that violate international law and cause harm," she said, emphasising her position that peace can only be achieved when human rights are upheld, and she believes that US Congress has a responsibility to acknowledge human rights violations.

McCollum also noted that support for Palestinians is growing, pointing to the list of co-sponsors of the bill and the more than 75 organisations that have publicly stated their support for it.

Despite this strong show of support, the bill is unlikely to pass, as it would need more than progressives to get behind it. Nevertheless, it is an acknowledgement of the growing support for Palestinian human rights in Congress.

"One day, Congress will move to adopt legislation like this as views and polling continues to move toward supporting Palestinian human rights," said McCaw. "As Americans' views shift on this issue, we will see more members of Congress emboldened."