J Street applauds the House Appropriations Committee’s approval of the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs appropriations bill that ensures robust assistance to Israel and the Palestinian people, as well as critical US funding for people-to-people programming, multilateral organizations and diplomacy worldwide. We thank House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro, State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee Chair Barbara Lee and other appropriators for ensuring that these broadly supported priorities were included in the bill.
We once again welcome provisions in the legislation that are an important step toward ensuring that equipment purchased with US Foreign Military Financing is used in a manner consistent with US law and national security policies.
We also applaud the bill’s provision of waiver authority that would allow the United States to resume contributions to and full participation in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 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 — undermine both US and Israeli interests while empowering our adversaries.
J Street also appreciates language on critical issues in the report accompanying the bill, including:
- Reaffirmation of the goal of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a call on the parties to the recent normalization agreements with Israel to help defuse tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, and to work to include Palestinians in such agreements;
- Specifying that the Secretary of State should ensure items supplied pursuant to the US-Israel Memorandum of Understanding on security assistance are not used in any way that undermines the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution;
- Confirmation that the committee has provided sufficient funds for the reopening of a separate US Consulate in Jerusalem and a request for a report on the administration’s progress in that effort;
- Requesting a report on efforts by both parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to combat incitement to violence;
- New language opposing extremist settler violence in the West Bank;
- A specific allocation of $100,000,000 to UNRWA for food assistance to vulnerable Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza; and
- A specific allocation of $50,000,000 for the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act Fund supporting people-to-people and other peacebuilding programs.
J Street will lobby in support of the bill’s passage by the full House of Representatives. We will also 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.
Restricting US aid to specific purposes — and enforcing such restrictions — is 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.