US lawmakers try to halt weapons deliveries to Israel

US lawmakers try to halt weapons deliveries to Israel
Progressive lawmakers are trying to halt the delivery of weapons deliveries to Israel through an amendment to National Defence Authorisation Act.
2 min read
Washington, D.C.
16 September, 2021
Congress has long been solidly pro-Israel, but a handful of progressive lawmakers are starting to change the narrative with their scrutiny. [Getty]

US House progressives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Mark Pocan are pushing to prevent the delivery of US weapons to Israel.

Last week, the lawmakers submitted an amendment to the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) that would require the US administration to the deliveries of Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Small Diameter Bombs to Israel for a year. Some of these were used in Israeli strikes on Gaza in May, which drew international criticism and increased pressure on Israel's allies to act.

The proposed amendment follows a May resolution by the three lawmakers aiming to block the US government’s planned $735 million sale of bombs to Israel.

Anwar Mhajne, assistant professor of political science at Stonehill College, told The New Arab that she sees this move as a result of multiple factors, such as the Israeli assault on Gaza in May, the personal story of Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s family, and increased visibility of Palestinians on social media.

But even with this growing sympathy for Palestinians, with the US government’s long-time solid support for Israel, it’s unlikely the amendment will be added. However, the fact that it has now become a regular occurrence for congress members to speak out about Palestinian human rights shows that there might be the beginnings of a change in US policy toward Israel – though any change would take years to become mainstream.

"The fact that this is even being considered is something," Khaled Elgindy, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, told The New Arab. "In the old days, referring to women entering the workplace, it was referred to as breaking the glass ceiling. Something similar is happening here. Barriers are being shattered."

Still, he has no illusion of long-time conventions changing anytime soon.

"It's a long game," he said. "We're at the very beginning of a shift."