The AIPAC pro-Israel lobby on Monday announced its opposition to a Democratic-endorsed legislation amendment that would see the U.S. barring Israel from using aid money towards its plans to apply sovereignty over parts of the West Bank, citing a politicization of Israel’s security needs that would hinder peace efforts.
Last week, 13 Senate Democrats led by Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) (pictured) filed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would ensure no U.S. funds are expended on Israel’s annexation.
In a statement, AIPAC said the move would only make a peace agreement with the Palestinians less likely.
“This amendment contradicts the Obama-Biden MOU and goes far beyond current law in ways that damage American interests, risk Israel’s security, and make peace less likely,” the statement read.
The Memorandum of Understanding forged by president Obama outlined the provision of $3.3 billion in annual foreign military funding for Israel.
The Washington-based lobby noted the amendment went beyond ensuring U.S. aid was not spent on annexation, and instructed Israel on various matters including where it was permitted to set up lifesaving defense systems like the Iron Dome.
“Senator Van Hollen wants to ensure no U.S. funds are used for annexation. But that’s already law. ‘Aid can only be used for “internal security, for legitimate self-defense.’ This amendment goes far beyond current law in ways that jeopardize Israel’s security.”
AIPAC went on to say that “it’s dangerous to weaken Israel’s defenses.”
“As Iran expands its missile program, and Hamas and Hezbollah possess over 150,000 rockets and missiles, it is dangerous to threaten Israel’s ability to fully utilize these defenses.”
“Threats to its security embolden Israel’s enemies and cause ordinary Israelis to question the wisdom of taking further risks for peace,” AIPAC said. “Our only stable, democratic ally in the Middle East faces unprecedented threats and challenges. America must stand with our ally, and Congress must not politicize U.S. security assistance to Israel.”
Van Hollen said last week while he was a “strong supporter” of assisting Israel’s security needs, he “oppose[d] the use of any of these funds to support the unilateral annexation of Palestinian territories by Israel.”
No U.S. funds are currently being expended on unilateral annexation, and this amendment would ensure that remains the case,” he said. “We must work together to pursue a viable, negotiated, two-state solution.”