J Street applauds Congressional passage of an omnibus appropriations package that ensures robust assistance to Israel and the Palestinian people, as well as critical US funding for multilateral organizations and diplomacy worldwide.
We especially welcome new provisions in language accompanying the act that are an important first step toward ensuring that equipment purchased with US Foreign Military Financing is used in a manner consistent with US law and national security policies, including specifying that items supplied pursuant to the US-Israel Memorandum of Understanding on security assistance may not be used in any way that undermines the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution.
J Street is particularly pleased to see the following appropriations priorities of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement in the act:
J Street will continue to lobby for legislation to require stronger, more specific transparency measures and restrictions on the end uses of US-sourced military equipment, including equipment bought with US aid to Israel, to ensure that it cannot be diverted to support acts of creeping annexation or other violations of international law. Recent polling of Jewish voters found that a solid majority support restricting such assistance to ensure that it cannot be used in connection with the expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied territory.
Restricting US aid to specific purposes – and enforcing such restrictions – is also responsible, standard practice in the context of US assistance to foreign countries. In the interest of fairness and accountability, it is necessary to avoid a double standard and ensure that Congress and American taxpayers have due visibility into, and control over, how US aid is ultimately used by Israel, as well.
J Street will also continue to press for language in future appropriations that would allow the United States to re-engage with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). J Street believes that US laws currently operating to restrict US contributions to UNESCO – and which would sweep in any other United Nations specialized agency that grants Palestinians full membership status in the future – should be amended. American disengagement from UNESCO is just the first of many potential costly retreats these terrible laws may force the United States to make from UN-affiliated agencies – including the World Intellectual Property Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency – of vital importance to America’s economy and security. The Israeli government itself does not object to such reengagement, and continued isolation of the US from UNESCO only serves to strengthen those who do not share our values and interests on the world stage.