To truly represent Democratic voters and show support for internationally-recognized human rights, more than 200 delegates to the Democratic National Convention said Thursday, the party must support efforts to withdraw Israeli military aid if the further annexation of the West Bank moves forward.
The delegates submitted a statement to the DNC's platform committee, demanding that the Democratic Party back efforts by Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and other progressive lawmakers to withhold $3.8 billion in military aid from Israel if it follows through with its annexation plan.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) made a similar call last year.
Over 200 #2020DNC delegates publish letter in support of @BernieSanders' call for cuts in U.S. military aid to Israel if Israel annexes the Jordan Valley. Here's our letter to the DNC #Platform Committee: https://t.co/bAKMl0mYwI pic.twitter.com/wE6ahhnn1m
— Marcy Winograd (@marcywinograd) July 16, 2020
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to seize control of 30% of the West Bank, including parts of the Jordan Valley, where about 65,000 Palestinian people live. The plan is in line with U.S. President Donald Trump's proposal for a so-called "peace plan," released in January.
The annexation proposal, which was set to go forward July 1 and faces delays, violates international law and has been vocally opposed by dozens of U.N. human rights officials and U.S. allies around the world.
"With potential annexation looming, it is past time for the party to reaffirm the position of Democratic voters and support human rights and self-determination for Palestinians," said Sam Hindi, a Palestinian American delegate from California, who organized the letter to the DNC. "Arab American voters have long demanded justice for Palestine, and it is heartening to see so many of our fellow Americans align with us on this defining human rights issue of our day."
The delegates noted in a press statement that 71% of Democratic voters oppose Israel's annexation plan, 70% support an independent Palestinian state, and 81% believe that Congress should question the U.S.-Israeli relationship.
"We felt that some in the Democratic Party leadership have been out of step with Democratic voters on this issue for some time," Hindi said.
Nine of the top 20 recipients of campaign contributions from pro-Israel groups are Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics; presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has been the top recipient from either party in 2020, receiving more than $900,000.
Aligning with Israeli interests as the country seeks to further oppress Palestinian people, the delegates said, puts the party leadership even more at odds with voters on the issue than it already is.
"The Platform Committee should give this statement—and the support among Democratic voters that it represents—strong consideration as they craft the party's policy agenda moving forward," said Marcy Winograd, a California delegate and a member of Jewish Voice for Peace. "Democrats increasingly want a foreign policy driven by the values of human rights and democracy. Continued unconditional aid to Israel would represent tacit support for the Israeli government's illegal and inhumane actions in the West Bank and Gaza, while ignoring the wishes of the majority of Democratic voters, including American Jews."
The delegates suggested that historic unemployment, the loss of employer-based health insurance for millions of Americans, and other ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic heighten the need for the U.S. to end its support for the Israeli military's actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
"The billions we give unconditionally to Israel could be spent on domestic priorities and social programs benefiting our most marginalized communities in the United States, which is especially important today as millions of Americans suffer without healthcare, jobs, education, and housing amidst a global pandemic," reads the statement.