Palestine: Ocasio-Cortez, Pocan and Tlaib Lead Joint Resolution to Block Weapon Sales to Netanyahu

In Arab Countries, International Advocacy Program by CIHRS

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) joined more than 70 human rights organizations in the United States of America, in their support for members of the US House of Representatives, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mark Buchan and Rashida Tlaib, who submitted to Congress a draft resolution opposing the sale of American-made weapons to the Israeli government. Representatives Corey Bush, Betty McCollum, Ayana Presley, Ilhan Omar, Pramila Jayapal and Andre Carson participated in the resolution.

On May 19, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mark Pocan, and Rashida Tlaib led the introduction of a House resolution opposing the sale of $735 million in American-made weapons to the Israeli government.  According to the Washington Post, “the bulk of the proposed sale is of Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMS, kits that transform so-called “dumb” bombs into precision-guided missiles,” which the U.S. has also sold to Israel in the past. JDAMS are believed to be used in the current violence, which has killed ten Israelis and over 200 Palestinians, including at least 58 children.

“For decades, the U.S. has sold billions of dollars in weaponry to Israel without ever requiring them to respect basic Palestinian rights. In so doing, we have directly contributed to the death, displacement and disenfranchisement of millions,” said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez in a statement. “At a time when so many, including President Biden, support a ceasefire, we should not be sending ‘direct attack’ weaponry to Prime Minister Netanyahu to prolong this violence.”

“The harsh truth is that these weapons are being sold by the United States to Israel with the clear understanding that the vast majority of them will be used to bomb Gaza. Approving this sale now, while failing to even try to use it as leverage for a ceasefire, sends a clear message to the world – the U.S. is not interested in peace, and does not care about the human rights and lives of Palestinians. You cannot claim to support human rights and peace on Earth and continue to back the extremist Netanyahu regime, it’s that simple,” said Rep. Tlaib in a statement.

“Members of Congress have repeatedly requested a ceasefire in Israel and Palestine, yet once again, Benjamin Netanyahu has refused,” said Congressman Pocan. “That leaves us at a point where the only way to prevent innocent children and others from being killed is to take a necessary look at future weapons sales to the region. Peace in Israel and Palestine is in everyone’s best interest, and if anyone refuses that, we must question how they use our assistance and possibly condition future assistance.”

Once the President officially notifies Congress of intended weapons sales, Members of Congress have 15 days to submit and vote on a resolution of disapproval opposing the sale – in this case, any day on or before May 20, 2021. However, after that time period has lapsed, Congress can still block or modify any sale up to the point of delivery.

The initial co-sponsors on the resolution are Cori Bush, Betty McCollum, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Pramila Jayapal and Andre Carson. The resolution text was circulated to all Members for the first time Wednesday morning. The resolution is also endorsed by over 70 organizations, including IfNotNow, Defense for Children International – Palestine, Center for Constitutional Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace Action, Justice Democrats, Demand Progress, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Just Foreign Policy, and Progressive Democrats of America.

“It is unconscionable that, in the middle of a violent conflict that has taken the lives of over 200 people, including over 60 children, that we would continue to sell weapons to one of the parties committing those human rights abuses. Let’s be clear: these are the exact bombs being used to kill children in Gaza right now. This is the worst possible timing for us to be sending munitions that are being dropped on schools, refugee camps, media offices, and COVID clinics in Gaza. But let’s make no mistake – even if the current escalation wasn’t raging, Congress should be questioning the sales of these types of weapons to Israel—and any country in the world that has committed human rights abuses. The United States should be doing everything in our power to bring about an immediate end to this conflict and the carnage it has caused, not continuing to sell Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the very bombs used to kill Palestinian children,” said Rep Omar.

“Our government is directly complicit in the human rights atrocities being inflicted by the Israeli military on Palestinians, and it is our job as members of Congress to make sure that we stop funding these abuses. In the midst of a deadly pandemic, the Israeli military, which is one of the most advanced militaries in the world, is attacking a largely defenseless, captive civilian Palestinian population. In Gaza, we are witnessing bombing near hospitals and schools, deliberately targeting residential buildings where families live. These atrocities are being funded by billions of our own American tax dollars while communities like mine in St. Louis are hurting and are in need of life-affirming investment here at home. As a country, we must stand up for the human rights of all people while insisting that our country prioritizes funding life, not destruction,” said Rep. Bush.

A full list of endorsing organizations follow:

IfNotNow, Defense for Children International – Palestine, Center for Constitutional Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace Action, Justice Democrats, Demand Progress, As the Spirit Moves Us, Indiana Center for Middle East Peace, Release Aging People in Prison/RAPP, United Vision for Idaho, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Labor Against Racism and War, Jetpac Resource Center, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Mainers for Accountable Leadership, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, Peace Action, National Writers Union, World BEYOND War, Progressive Democrats of America, AFSC, Just Foreign Policy, Presbyterian Church (USA), African Public Affairs Committee, Dream Defenders, Delawareans for Palestinian Human Rights (DelPHR), United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Historians for Peace and Democracy, Project South, Center for Civilians in Conflict, WESPAC Foundation, Inc., Massachusetts Peace Action, Last Mile Math, Palestine Legal, Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC), Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, MPower Action, Rethinking Foreign Policy, Security Policy Reform Institute (SPRI), Arab American Civic Council, Freedom Forward, Institute for Policy Studies New Internationalism Project, Migrant Roots Media, Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment, American Muslims for Palestine, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), Pax Christi USA, Ban Killer Drones.org, Chicago Faith Coalition for Middle East Peace, Muslim Democrats of Lucas County, Eyewitness Palestine, Action Center on Race & the Economy, Palestine Advocacy Project, Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell ,Virginia Coalition for Human Rights, Facing Abuse in Community Environments, Democratic Socialists of America and Palestine Solidarity Working Group, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), Human Rights Awareness:Palestine Israel, Center on Conscience & War, International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN), Indivisible Illinois, ADC GA CHAPTER, The Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), Episcopal Peace Fellowship – Palestine Israel Network, Our Revolution Virginia Justice Democrats, Project Blueprint, Arab American Institute (AAI), Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, Arab Jewish Partnership for Peace and Justice in the Middle East, Muslims for Progress.


Photo: Palestinians sit in tents amid the rubble of their houses which were destroyed by Israeli air strikes. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

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