Betty McCollum introduces historic bill seeking to end US complicity for Israeli human rights abuses

Rep. Betty McCollum’s latest bill is the boldest effort ever by Congress to ensure that the US is no longer complicit in Israel’s denial of freedom to five million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) during hearing on the Department of Agriculture Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2020 at the Rayburn House Office Building, in Washington, D.C., April 9, 2019.

Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced today her most comprehensive legislative initiative yet to promote Palestinian rights, H.R.2590, the Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act.

“U.S. assistance intended for Israel’s security must never be used to violate the human rights of Palestinian children, demolish the homes of Palestinian families, or to permanently annex Palestinian lands,” McCollum said. “Peace can only be achieved by respecting human rights, especially the rights of children, and this includes the U.S. taking responsibility for how taxpayer-funded aid is used by recipient countries, Israel included. Congress must stop ignoring the unjust and blatantly cruel mistreatment of Palestinian children and families living under Israeli military occupation.”

The legislation has 13 original sponsors: Reps. Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Andre Carson (IN-07), Marie Newman (IL-03), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Cori Bush (MO-01), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), and Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04)

It is also supported by over 75 organizations, including Palestinian human rights groups, US-based organizations led by Palestinian-Americans and Muslim-Americans, and US-based Palestine solidarity groups.

Notably, the bill is also being supported by J Street, marking the first time this liberal Zionist organization has publicly backed a legislative initiative that seeks to condition weapons to Israel.

Even before the bill’s formal introduction, AIPAC vehemently opposed it, saying it would “undermine U.S. interests and make peace less likely.” This prompted McCollum to clap back on Twitter:

In the past two congressional sessions, McCollum introduced path-breaking legislation centering Palestinian rights. Her bills on Israel’s detention and ill-treatment of Palestinian children in Israel’s separate-and-unequal military judicial system sought to prevent US funding for this practice, and to establish a US fund for reporting on Israel’s abuses and providing rehabilitative services to Palestinian children subjected to abuse.

In the last Congress, McCollum also introduced a bill to ensure that US funds do not support Israel’s de jure annexation of additional Palestinian land, a prospect raised by the Trump administration’s green-lighting of Israel’s unilateral annexation of up to 30 percent of West Bank in its January 2020 so-called “deal of the century” plan.

McCollum’s latest bill both reiterates her opposition to Israel’s ill-treatment of Palestinian children and the possibility of its formal annexation of additional West Bank land, and expands her critique of Israeli occupation policies, making it the most extensive legislative effort ever introduced in Congress to end US complicity in the human rights violations endemic to Israeli military occupation.

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