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Middle East

US bill introduced to strip Israel of funds over annexation

CHICAGO: Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum on Friday introduced a bill to strip Israel of US funding if it moves forward with the annexation of large areas of the occupied West Bank.

The bill comes in the wake of the surprise decision by the UAE to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel in exchange for the latter putting its annexation plans on hold.

“I reject annexation, I condemn annexation, and I’ll work to ensure the US doesn’t support, defend or legitimize any plan or action by Israel to illegally annex Palestinian lands,” McCollum said, adding that the agreement between Israel and the UAE “changes nothing.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump “have taken nothing off the table,” she said.

“Their promises and commitments are worthless. They’ve both proven time and time (again) that they can’t be trusted,” she added. “Reports of annexation being off the table can’t be taken at face value.”

In May, Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden said if elected president in November, his administration would not give Israel a “green light” to pursue annexation.

McCollum’s law is co-sponsored by six Democrats: Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Mark Pocan, Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rep. Andre Carson.

“The Israeli government’s continued unilateral attempts to violate the human rights of the Palestinian people should be condemned and rejected,” said Wisconsin Congressman Pocan.

“Greenlit by the Trump administration, Netanyahu has consistently served as a roadblock to peace and a two-state solution,” he added.

“Palestinians and Israelis deserve to live peacefully, thus Congress must oppose US funding for annexation.”

The bill could receive more endorsements, but it is unlikely that the Republican-controlled House or a Democratic-controlled one after November’s election would give it enough votes to pass.

“I want Palestinians and Israelis to have their human rights respected, their right to self-determination realized, and a future with peace, security, equality and justice,” McCollum said in introducing the bill.

“Annexation is antithetical to these goals and will fuel instability, injustice, and an abhorrent system of apartheid. This is an intolerable outcome for Palestinians, Israelis and Americans.”

The bill has been endorsed by more than 30 pro-Palestinian activist organizations, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Jewish Voice for Peace, the National Council of Churches and the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

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