Meanwhile, with the federal fiscal year coming to a close at the end of this month and next year’s federal budget due, it is an opportune time to consider allocations to advance foreign policy priorities. President Biden has made clear that human rights, equality, and democracy are, for him, guiding principles in US foreign policy, and he has demonstrated some willingness to do so, holding up arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates over their involvement in the Yemen civil war. It is time to hold Israel accountable to human rights standards and adopt H. R. 2590 that addresses Israeli violations as well.
In May, Rep Betty McCollum introduced the “Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation.” Many of our churches and agencies have offered support of this resolution, which would prohibit Israeli use of US aid to detain, abuse, or ill-treat Palestinian children in Israeli detention; to seize or destroy Palestinian homes and property; and to annex Palestinian land and territory, all of which violate international humanitarian law. To date, the resolution has 29 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.
This fall, children in the northern hemisphere started a new school year. In the first week of school in Bethlehem, four Palestinian youth were arrested in a night raid. Information was withheld about those detentions - in violation of Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel and the US are both signatories. Already in September, Israel has continued to demolish at least three Palestinian homes and properties in Silwan and in the Bethlehem area. And PM Bennett’s intention to continue settlement expansion is the kind of de facto annexation of Palestinian land that Israel has undertaken for decades.
Israel must be held accountable for these human rights violations. And, the US has the leverage to do so given the Administration’s stated commitment to human rights, existing US foreign assistance laws, and the aid that the US sends to Israel. Urge your Congressional representative to support H. R. 2590 to prevent using your taxes to support violations of international human rights law.