US congresswoman reintroduces bill restricting aid to Israel

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Congresswoman Betty McCollum speaks at the International ICCF gala in Washington DC, on 19 March 2015 (AFP)

First introduced in 2021, the bill calls on Israel to stop using US taxpayers’ money to hurt Palestinian childrenUS Congresswoman Betty McCollum has reintroduced her bill to prohibit Israel’s government from using American taxpayers’ dollars from being used to abuse Palestinian children.

The bill, “Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act’’, was first introduced in 2021 and was reintroduced last Friday.

McCollum said in a statement that Congress has a responsibility to not ignore the “well-documented mistreatment of Palestinian children and families” under Israeli occupation.

“Not $1 of US aid should be used to commit human rights violations, demolish families’ homes, or permanently annex Palestinian lands,” McCollum said.

“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.”

The legislation delivers a description of Israeli abuses against Palestinians under the occupation, including the prosecution of minors in military courts.

“In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, there are two separate and unequal legal systems, with Israeli military law imposed on Palestinians and Israeli civilian law applied to Israeli settlers,” the bill states.

“The Government of Israel and its military detains around 500 to 700 Palestinian children between the ages of 12 and 17 each year and prosecutes them before a military court system that lacks basic and fundamental guarantees of due process in violation of international standards.”

US aid must not fund Israeli abuses against Palestinians, new bill says

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The bill also calls on the Israeli government to stop using US money to seize and destroy Palestinian property and homes in violation of international law and not use US money for assistance for the unilateral annexation of Palestinian lands.

There are currently 16 cosponsors of the bill, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Rashida Tlaib; Ilhan Omar; Ayanna Pressley; Cori Bush; and Barbara Lee.

The bill is also supported by over 76 organisations, including Human Rights Watch; Amnesty International; Jewish Voice for Peace Action; J Street; US Campaign for Palestinian Rights; and the IfNotNow Movement.

“Prominent civil society groups, as well as Christian, Jewish, and Muslim organisations have signed on in support of this bill – because we all agree that no Palestinian child and no Jewish child should go to bed at night fearing ongoing violence,” McCollum said. 

“There is a path to a peaceful future, and it requires leading with our US values of democracy and equal justice for all.”

While the number of cosponsors to the legislation is sparse, the measure has a lot of support from the Democratic voter base.

In 2021, Data for Progress reported that 72 percent of Democrats approved of the legislation.

McCollum has been a staunch proponent of Palestinian rights in Congress and has supported legislation to commemorate the Nakba, restrict US aid to Israel, and condemned Israeli human rights abuses including home demolitions and the detention of Palestinian children.

She has also frequently been attacked by pro-Israel lobbying groups like Aipac.

In 2020, Mcollum was awarded the Champion of Palestinian Rights Award by American Muslims for Palestine for her legislation regarding the detention of Palestinian children.

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Disclaimer: US congresswoman reintroduces bill restricting aid to Israel - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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