United States’ Democratic Party Congressmen have introduced a bill that affirms the support for the two-state solution of the Palestinian issue and also calls for a critical oversight on US aid to guarantee that the money is not used in human rights violations against Palestinians.
This bill, introduced by Congressman Andy Levin on Thursday would change the US policy regarding Israel as the US will clearly distinguish between Israel and the Palestinian territories it occupies, including East Jerusalem.
During a news conference in Washington DC, unveiling the bill Levin said, “The bill makes clear that assistance to help Israel address its very real security challenges should continue without $1-loss.”
“But it cannot be used in a manner that violates internationally recognized human rights, or for activities that perpetuate the occupation or enable de facto – or heaven knows de jure – annexation.”
Levin of Michigan sarcastically said that the way US taxpayer money is spent is “nothing new”, but in this case, it is “essential if we’re serious about achieving a two-state solution and upholding the human rights of Israelis and Palestinians alike”.
In response to a question by Al Jazeera, Levin acknowledged the challenges facing the two-state solution, but he said it is important to put in the work in order to open new possibilities.
Levin said, “What’s been missing is the US playing its role – its muscular, robust role – of saying to these two peoples: We are going to support you and bring you together through thick and thin so that we can achieve lasting peace.”
The bill also urged the US government to maintain formal diplomatic relations with Palestinians by reopening the shuttered offices of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, DC, and the American consulate in East Jerusalem
Joe Biden had promised to re-establish ties with Palestinians, but eight months into his presidency the consulate in occupied East Jerusalem has yet to reopen.
USCPR about the bill
More than 680,000 Israeli settlers currently live in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to a recent UN report. Israel captured Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in the 1967 war. It annexed East Jerusalem in 1980.
In a statement on Thursday, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) said that Levin’s legislation does not go far enough in pressuring Israel.
The group said, “Palestinians have long been clear in their demands – stop US complicity in Israeli human rights abuses and divest from harm and violence,”
USCPR further added that measures towards that end must hold Israel accountable for its abuses and meaningfully oppose the “separate-and-unequal” reality that Palestinians are living under.
“The Two-State Solution Act does not pass these two basic requirements and thus cannot be a progressive bill on Palestine,” USCPR added.
US Israel aid
Thursday’s bill comes amid a debate over US aid to Israel, with several progressive legislators calling for conditions to be placed on the $3.8bn in annual military assistance the US provides to the Israeli government.
Earlier this year, Democratic legislator Betty McCollum introduced a bill that would similarly limit the use of US aid so it does not contribute to Israeli annexation of Palestinian territory or to the imprisonment of Palestinian children, among other things.
However, Biden has largely kept with decades of US support for Israel. In the UN General Assembly speech on Tuesday, he reasserted his backing of the two-state solution, but his administration has always refrained from publicly criticizing Israel’s repressive policies against Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who met with Biden in Washington DC has spurned allowing the establishment of a Palestinian state under his regime.
The bill introduced on Thursday which dubbed the Two-State Solution Act also says the establishment of Israeli settlements is “inconsistent with international law” it also calls for “an end to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories”.
Contrastingly, this denouncing Israeli occupation bill was announced hours before the House of Representatives voted vehemently to provide $1b in additional funding for the reparation and modification of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
The bill is co-sponsored by more than two dozen Democrats, including several prominent Jewish members of the House.