Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – A group of progressive Democrats in the United States Congress has called on President Joe Biden to “shift” American policy on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, saying that US aid should not be used to fund abuses of Palestinian rights.
In a letter to Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday, 14 lawmakers also urged the US administration to investigate whether American weapons were used to commit rights violations against Palestinians and ensure that “US taxpayer funds do not support projects in illegal settlements”.
“Furthermore, we call on your administration to ensure that all future foreign assistance to Israel, including weapons and equipment, is not used in support of gross violations of human rights.
US regulations, including a provision known as the Leahy law, prohibit assistance to military forces that commit gross violations of human rights.
The letter, led by Congressman Jamaal Bowman and Senator Bernie Sanders, marked a rare call from Congress for restricting the $3.8bn that Israel receives in US military aid every year.
It cited the killing of two American citizens by Israeli forces last year – Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh and Omar Assad, an elderly Palestinian-American who died after being arbitrarily detained.
While the letter only garnered a relatively small number of signatures, progressive activists have described it as norm-breaking. Israel has traditionally enjoyed near unanimous, bipartisan support in Congress.
“These 14 members of Congress represent the rapidly growing popular opinion of Democrats across the country: Americans want to see an end to US support for Israel’s blatant violence against Palestinians,” Beth Miller, political director Jewish Voice for Peace Action, an advocacy group that supports Palestinian rights, told Al Jazeera in an email.