Washington dc – Palestinian rights defenders in the United States have condemned a recent visit to the U.S. capital by Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, renewing his calls for an end to unconditional U.S. military aid to Israel.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters last week that Israel would be requesting $ 1 billion “replenish” its Iron Dome missile interception system, as well as buy ammunition for the Israeli Air Force, after 11 days of struggle between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian faction that rules the Gaza Strip.
Israeli bombing of besieged Palestinian territory killed 235 Palestinians, including 67 children, and displaced at least 58,000 Palestinians. Twelve people in Israel, including two children, were killed by rockets fired by Palestinian groups in Gaza.
“The State Department is already trying to move forward $ 735 million in additional arms sales above the $ 3.8 billion annually U.S. taxpayers provide Israel every year, ”Mohamad Habehh, national coordinator of U.S. Muslim development for Palestine, told Al Jazeera.
“Coming to the United States and asking for another billion dollars after the wholesale destruction of Gaza, after the murder of more than 60 children, is unattainable.”
Reports of a meeting between Gantz and U.S. President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Thursday morning did not indicate whether Israel’s $ 1 billion request had been formalized in military aid.
Fat he tweeted who discussed “protecting Israel’s QME” with Sullivan. QME stands for “qualitative military advantage,” denoting Israel’s technological and military superiority over the United States for decades helped finance through generous aid packages that critics say encourage the Israeli government to act with impunity in the occupied Palestinian territories.
“U.S. tax money should not be spent on apartheid funding and ethnic cleansing, especially when there is so much need here in the United States,” Habehh said.
The National Security Council said in a statement that during the meeting, Sullivan emphasized the “commitment of the Biden administration to strengthen all aspects of the US-Israel security partnership, including support for the Iron Dome system.”
“Mr. Sullivan stressed the importance of ensuring that immediate humanitarian aid can reach the people of Gaza, “the statement said. On May 25, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced that the US would provide $ 38 million in humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.
But for some Palestinian rights advocates, the gesture feels empty.
“So you give a few million dollars to the Palestinians for humanitarian aid, but then you sell hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons to the country that oppresses them?” said Laura Albast, a Palestinian-American activist from the Palestinian Youth Movement who attended a small demonstration in front of the White House against Gantz’s visit and the expected request for help on Thursday afternoon.
“Biden said he would defend human rights. We went to the street a march in tens of thousands, we have signed petitions, we have raised our voices against Israeli apartheid crimes. But it is clear that Joe Biden does not care about us or the human rights of the Palestinians, “Albast told Al Jazeera.
He added that he has relatives in Gaza whose house was destroyed during an Israeli bombing last month. “They’re all safe, thank God,” he said. “But his home is completely destroyed. Where are they going now? ”
US aid to Israel
U.S. military aid to Israel has long been considered a cornerstone of the country’s foreign policy, and the substantial political influence of pro-Israel groups has helped create a strong bipartisan consensus in support of billions. of dollars that Washington sends every year to Israel.
But Palestinian defense groups say they are witnessing a shifting discourse around Israel-Palestine in the U.S., and that public opinion it is changing among Democratic Party voters, even though it has not yet reached the leaders of the party establishment.
However, progressive members of the Democratic Party are increasingly outspoken in their criticism of military aid. When the Biden administration announced its intention to sell Israel An additional $ 735 million in ammunition – revelation first reported during Israeli assault on Gaza – several progressive members of Congress He tried to block it.
A bill has also been introduced by Representative Betty McCollum which seeks to ensure that U.S. aid money is not used to facilitate the demolition of Palestinian housing by Israel, the detention of Palestinian children, and the confiscation of Palestinian land, among other actions.
“My colleagues are in a hurry to give the Israeli army a billion dollars more to fund apartheid, while our education system, our health care system and our housing system remain underfunded,” he said. said Cori Bush, a Democratic congressman tweet, in reference to Gantz’s visit. “Our communities need these $ 1 billion. Send it to us ”.
Meanwhile, on May 23, more than 500 Democratic officials and others who worked in Biden’s presidential campaign signed a letter calling on his administration to take a firmer stance against Israel and do more to defend its rights. Palestinians. “As you tweeted last month,” no responsible American president can keep quiet when basic human rights are violated. “We could not agree more. That is why we ask you to unequivocally condemn the killing of Palestinian civilians by part of Israel, ”the letter explains states.
For Palestinian-American activists, these signs are an encouraging indication that their years of organization are beginning to bear fruit. “Things are starting to change,” Habehh said. “For so long, American aid to Israel has been an unconditional blank check, and when it does, why will Israel ever change its behavior?”