Arming Israel: Will the US Demand Accountability?

Peace Advocate March 2023

by Eva Moseley and Jeff Klein

Every year, US taxpayers finance the Israeli military to the tune of $3.8 billion. In 2022 Congress piled on an additional $1 billion for Israel to replenish rockets it had used in its latest attack on Gaza. Only a handful of House representatives dissented.

Israel defies international law and UN resolutions, furthers its occupation by annexing Occupied East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights, expands its illegal settlements, violates Palestinian rights, and frequently attacks its neighbors.  Yet US aid to Israel never stops, cumulatively amounting, in current dollars, to hundreds of $billions.

Justice and common sense demand that the US makes Israel accountable for its defiance by tying US aid to Israel’s actions.  The new Israeli government makes this even more urgent: it includes parties that openly express racist and fascist views, and it will entrench policies that international and Israeli human rights organizations characterize as Apartheid.

— All parties in the Israeli governing coalition support permanent control of the Occupied Territories, with annexation as the goal. (The US claims to support a “two-state solution” but, when Israel makes it impossible to achieve that, the US does nothing.) Israel has launched a massive increase in illegal settlement housing units, escalated military raids, and instigated a surge of settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank and Occupied East Jerusalem. After a recent military invasion of Palestinian Nablus, 400 settlers rampaged through the Palestinian town of Huwara.

Israeli annexation measures involve stepped-up land seizures, expulsion of Palestinians, and such collective punishments as neighborhood lockdowns, house demolitions, and mass arrests without trial. Bezalel Smotrich, now minister in charge of the West Bank, has written that the only options for Palestinians in the annexed territories are to accept Israeli rule without political rights, emigrate, or resist and be killed – while Israel has outlawed Palestinian human rights organizations as “terrorist.” The US objects but does nothing.

After Israeli soldiers killed journalist and US citizen Shireen Abu Akleh, the US government asked for a serious investigation. Israel announced that it will not cooperate.

Israel’s attacks or threats of attacks against its neighbors – e.g., using US weapons to invade Lebanon, bomb Syria, and openly plan for war against Iran — are violations of US arms export laws. Israeli armed units’ crimes against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories also violate the terms of the Leahy Laws, which demand sanctioning foreign military units that commit gross human rights violations.

The US government is “deeply troubled,” “extremely concerned,” or “deeply dismayed by Israel’s latest actions.” Secretary of State Blinken said: “Like previous administrations, Democratic and Republican, we strongly oppose such unilateral measures, which exacerbate tensions and undermine the prospects for a negotiated two-state solution.”  But the US $billions continue to flow.

Israel will not change direction without meaningful outside pressure. Polls indicate that young Israelis are even more right-wing than their parents.   Mere words make no difference. Days after the US engineered a UN Security Council rebuke of settlement expansion, Israel’s new government announced plans for another 7,000 settler units.

Israel and its lobbyists will claim that cutting off US-taxpayer-funded arms will leave Israel defenseless. That isn’t true. But Israeli rather than US taxpayers would have to pay for Israel’s occupation and threats to its neighbors.  And of course we have urgent unmet needs at home that those $billions could pay for.

Our own Senator Elizabeth Warren has broached the idea of conditioning aid in accordance with Israel’s actions.  Its current actions, and the policies of its new government, would indicate zero aid, but even a less drastic reduction could herald a new relationship with new, realistic expectations.  So we should thank and encourage Senator Warren to find allies and write legislation, and should tell the other members of our congressional delegation to get on board.

Please use our easy tool to contact Congress.  Please do what it suggests and also send it to your family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and anyone else whose pockets have routinely been picked by Israel.

— Eva Moseley was a member of MAPA’s board for over 30 years and is a member of its Palestine/Israel Working Group.  Jeff Klein is a member of the board and of the Palestine/Israel Working Group.  He has traveled to Israel/Palestine many times.