Israel to push US lawmakers to halt aid to Palestinians

The Israeli government plans to contact members of Congress in an effort to halt U.S. aid to the Palestinians, according to multiple reports. 

A senior Israeli official told Haaretz on Sunday that Jerusalem will be contacting pro-Israel U.S. lawmakers to ensure conditions laid out in the latest government spending bill are enforced. 

{mosads}The spending package Congress approved in December stated that, if Palestinians initiate any action against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC), the State Department would have to restrict U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority (P.A.).

The U.S. provides about $400 million annually to the Palestinian Authority.

Last week, the Palestinians formally submitted an application to join the Hague-based International Criminal Court. The move could result in Palestinians referring a case to the ICC later this year that they say involves Israeli officials allegedly committing war crimes in Gaza.

{mosads}The ICC bid came just after they failed to win approval at the United Nations Security Council to end Israeli occupation by 2017 and become an independent state.

In response to the ICC move, Israel has already halted the transfers of the tax revenues it collects on behalf of Palestinians. Israeli officials have promised a harsher and more comprehensive response, which its security cabinet will discuss later this week, Haaretz reported.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a staunch pro-Israel advocate, issued a warning following the Palestinian bid.

“The Palestinian Authority should sit down with the Israelis and negotiate a two-state solution so that the people of the region can finally live in peace,” he said. “In addition, the P.A. should be reminded that the recent appropriations bill signed into law will restrict U.S. funding if they attempt to initiate an investigation through the ICC.”

In November, top appropriators in Congress called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to denounce a spate of terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens.

The lawmakers stopped short of threatening to halt U.S. economic assistance to the Palestinians but signaled that could be a possibility down the road.

With Republicans in control of the new Congress, many GOP lawmakers who identify as pro-Israel could push appropriators to hold up aid.

Tags Charles Schumer

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