J Street strongly welcomes the Biden Administration’s decision to restore a longstanding bipartisan geographic restriction on American funding for US-Israel scientific cooperation projects, preventing US taxpayer dollars from supporting research conducted in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. All those who support a two-state solution to secure Israel’s democratic future must do everything possible to uphold the distinction between the State of Israel, and settlements in occupied territory beyond the Green Line.
By deciding in October 2020 to allow US funding to go to research projects in the settlements, the Trump Administration deliberately sought to elide and undermine this key distinction. By reversing Trump, and restoring decades of bipartisan policy in place since the 1970s, the Administration is clarifying where the US stands: “That the ultimate disposition of the geographic areas which came under the administration of Israel after June 5, 1967 is a final status matter and that we are working towards a negotiated two-state solution in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu has himself agreed to cooperation agreements with other countries that expressly do not apply to the settlements. There is no reason why a different standard should apply to Israel’s greatest ally, requiring US taxpayers to fund projects in illegal settlements. Accusations that declining to finance such settlement projects is somehow antisemitic are not only made in plainly bad faith, but are insulting to those who have suffered from the very real evil of antisemitism.
Clarifying and enforcing this position is particularly important given the current Netanyahu government’s all-out effort to expand settlements, annex territory and deepen occupation throughout the West Bank, entrenching the one-state nightmare that is destructive for both Israelis and Palestinians. The government’s moves not only violate commitments to the United States and the rule of law, but take a sledgehammer to the shared democratic values and aspirations of the US-Israel relationship.
J Street supports US funding for joint US-Israel scientific cooperation – and believes it is crucial that such funding go to research conducted in Israel and not in illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. In addition to commending the Biden Administration on this important step, we urge the US government to expressly reverse other harmful steps that the Trump Administration took to legitimize West Bank settlements. They should revoke the “Pompeo Doctrine”, which stated that the US does not consider settlements to be illegal under international law; and restore the bipartisan customs guidance on accurate labeling of West Bank goods.