Minnesota Democrat sponsors bill to restrict aid to Israel

Vocal Israel critic Betsy McCollum wants to place significant restrictions on U.S. aid to the Jewish State.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Betsy McCollum (D-Minnesota) announced Wednesday that she is introducing a bill to prevent Israel from using American military aid against Palestinians.

“It’s time that Congress stand up and defend the human rights of the Palestinian people,” she posted on her Twitter feed. “Later this week I will be introducing the Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act.”

While McCollum says she wants the U.S. ally to stop alleged abuse of Palestinian minors, Israel’s actual policy is to only arrest minors suspected of carrying out terror offenses.

“There is nothing out of the ordinary about conditioning aid,” McCollum told The Intercept.

She added, “I don’t want one dollar of U.S. aid to Israel paying for the military detention and abuse of Palestinian children, the demolition of Palestinian homes, or the annexation of Palestinian land.”

McCollum has tried introducing similar legislation for years, but has failed to garner wider support. As the new chairwoman of the defense subcommittee, a part of the powerful Appropriations Committee in the Democratic-controlled Congress, she may have more sway now in pushing her latest bill.

While left-wing organizations like J Street and Americans for Peace Now gave public backing to the bill among some 20 other pro-Palestinian groups, the principal Israel lobbying organization, AIPAC, condemned the move.

“We oppose @BettyMcCollum04’s latest anti-Israel bill, which would condition aid to Israel, undermine U.S. interests and make peace less likely,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee tweeted Wednesday night. “We agree with @POTUS @JoeBiden: Cuts or conditions on aid to Israel would be “irresponsible,” “outrageous” and a “gigantic mistake.”

McCollum responded sharply an hour later on Twitter, accusing AIPAC of “want[ing] U.S. taxpayer dollars” to be spent “abusing Palestinian human rights” and “imprisoning children.”

The bill contains a list of actions Israel cannot carry out using American money, and requires that the State Department and General Accounting Office report on Israeli compliance. It does not specify any consequences for Israel if it fails to comply with the terms.

McCollum has served in Congress for 20 years, but has recently been overshadowed as a vocal critic of Israel by her fellow Minnesota colleague, Ilhan Omar, who has placed criticism of the Jewish State at the top of her agenda.