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Progressive lawmakers call for conditions on Israel aid

Progressive lawmakers call for conditions on Israel aid
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A dozen Democratic lawmakers have signed on to a letter spearheaded by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezProgressives push for direct payments to be included in COVID-19 relief deal Rubio and Ocasio-Cortez spar on Twitter: 'Work more, tweet less' Harry Styles hits back at criticism over wearing dress on Vogue cover MORE (D-N.Y.) calling for conditions on the $3.8 billion in U.S. military funding to Israel should it move forward with its plan to annex parts of the West Bank.

“Should the Israeli government continue down this path, we will work to ensure non-recognition of annexed territories as well as pursue legislation that conditions the $3.8 billion in U.S. military funding to Israel to ensure that U.S. taxpayers are not supporting annexation in any way,” the letter, addressed to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo imposes visa restrictions on Chinese officials over 'intimidation' tactics Israel's new Gulf relations give Biden's team a new Middle East hub Pompeo knocks Turkey in NATO speech: report MORE, said. 

The lawmakers are calling for “human rights conditions and the withholding of funds for the offshore procurement of Israeli weapons equal to or exceeding the amount the Israeli government spends annually to fund settlements, as well as the policies and practices that sustain and enable them.”

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The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, rejected the letter, saying it “explicitly threatens the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that would damage American interests, risk the security of Israel & make a two-state solution less likely.”

The letter is co-signed by several progressive firebrands, including Democratic Reps. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibProgressives push for direct payments to be included in COVID-19 relief deal Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks MORE (Mich.), Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalGovernment used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 Inequality of student loan debt underscores possible Biden policy shift Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far MORE (Wash.) and Ilhan OmarIlhan Omar'It's not a slogan': Progressives push back on Obama's comments on 'defund the police' movement Meet the three Democrats who could lead foreign affairs in the House Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far MORE (Minn.), as well as Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money: Unemployment gains lower than expected | Jobs report lights fire under coronavirus relief talks Sanders says he can't support bipartisan COVID-19 relief proposal in its current form Progressives push for direct payments to be included in COVID-19 relief deal MORE (I-Vt.).  

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About 190 House Democrats have also signed on to a separate letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE opposing annexation, saying "we urge your government to reconsider plans to do so," according to a copy obtained by The Hill.

At least 36 Senate Democrats, along with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Federal student loan payment suspension extended another month Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week MORE, have come out in opposition to annexation. Biden has said he is against adding conditions to the military aid. 

AIPAC also rejected that letter, saying it doesn’t hold Palestinians accountable for their role in failing to advance peace efforts.

Pompeo said Wednesday that the decision to annex territory rests with Israel alone, but Israeli officials have signaled that U.S. support is necessary for moving forward on annexation.

J Street, a pro-Israel organization considered more in line with the progressive left, has thrown its support behind Democratic efforts to push Israel to reconsider annexation. Alumni of the organization have asked for them to push for the conditioning aid, as Ocasio-Cortez has asked for.

“We understand that historically, U.S. refusal to use its leverage  — as we would do with other countries — has enabled a right-wing annexationist agenda to succeed in Israeli politics in the first place," Zoe Goldblum, former president of the J Street U National Student Board, said in a statement.