No strings attached: 330 US lawmakers call for full funding of aid to Israel

“There should be no doubt of where Congress stands in our support for Israel’s security,” Rep. Deutch said.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

In an overwhelming rebuke to recent calls by liberal-leaning Democrats to place conditions on U.S. military aid to Israel, 330 U.S. lawmakers – two-thirds of the House of Representatives – urged the House Appropriations Committee to continue its “strong support” for “the full funding of security assistance to Israel,” in a letter sent Thursday.

Representatives were roughly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. The effort was led by Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

“One program that enjoys particularly strong bipartisan backing and for which we, Democrats and Republicans, urge your continued strong support is the full funding of security assistance to Israel as authorized in the 2016 U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding (MOU),” the letter said.

The 2016 MOU on U.S. foreign defense aid to Israel was signed during the Obama administration and provides $33 billion in total aid over 10 years. Another $5 billion is provided for ballistic missile defense.

“There should be no doubt of where Congress stands in our support for Israel’s security after an overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans signed on to support full funding of security assistance to our closest Middle East ally,” Deutch said in a statement.

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The letter was a powerful rejoinder to a bill recently proposed by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) that seeks to condition aid to Israel over alleged human rights abuses. The bill, titled “Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act,” is similar to one McCollum introduced in 2019.

J Street backed the bill.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) criticized McCollum for the bill and helped boost the letter with a lobbying campaign, according to Jewish Insider.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), at a J Street conference on Monday, also advocated using U.S. military assistance as a means to put pressure on Israel.

“If we’re serious about arresting settlement expansion and helping move the parties toward a two-state solution, then it would be irresponsible not to consider all of the tools we have at our disposal,” said Warren.

“One of those is restricting military aid from being used in the occupied territories. By continuing to provide military aid without restriction, we provide no incentive for Israel to adjust course,” she said.

The letter indirectly addressed the recent criticism, saying, “We recognize that not every Member of Congress will agree with every policy decision of every Israeli government. However as President Biden has stated, ‘I’m not going to place conditions for the security assistance given the serious threats that Israel is facing, and this would be, I
think, irresponsible.’”

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The letter also spoke of the many benefits accruing to the U.S. from Israeli military prowess and regional strength.

“As America’s closest Mideast ally, Israel regularly provides the United States with unique intelligence information and advanced defensive weapons systems. Israel is also actively engaged in supporting security partners like Jordan and Egypt, and its recent normalization agreements with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco will help promote regional stability and deal with common challenges from Iran and its terrorist proxies,” the letter noted.

“Just as foreign assistance is an investment in advancing our values and furthering our global interests, security aid to Israel is a specific investment in the peace and prosperity of the entire Middle East,” it said.