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US promises $3.3bn in military aid to Israel but cuts humanitarian aid to Palestinians

September 20, 2018 at 1:06 pm

US President Donald Trump [Matt Johnson/Flickr]

The US House of Representatives passed two separate Israel related bills this week, endorsing what is being described as the largest aid package in American history and the appointment of an international tsar to monitor anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel worldwide.

The military aid package of $3.3 billion will be delivered to Israel over the next year. This figure is likely to increase by an additional $550 million as a result of Congress passing a $716 billion defence bill. A further $1 billion has been set aside for the US weapons stockpiles in Israel, which Israel taps into during escalations of violence against the Palestinians and Lebanon. In 2016, the US agreed to give Israel $38 billion in military aid over 10 years.

The bill passed under the cover of a media blackout and at the same time that President Donald Trump pulled humanitarian aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which provides basic provisions for over five million Palestinian refugees.

Read: Trump says he won’t give aid to Palestinians unless they agree to peace deal

In August, the bill officially called the “United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018” passed a Senate vote. Representing what is believed to be the single largest military aid package in American history, according to Mintpress the astronomical sum translates into $23,000 for every Jewish family living in Israel.

In addition to the massive amount that the new legislation promises to the Israeli military, the bill will also mandate NASA to cooperate closely with the Israel Space Agency. The decision has been described as very unusual in light of the Israel’s history of espionage targeting NASA.

The second bill passed by Congress has also been largely overlooked by the media. It calls for a special government envoy to be tasked with monitoring anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel worldwide.

Read: Trump cuts aid to Palestinian hospitals in occupied Jerusalem

According to the text of the bill –the “Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act of 2017” – the postholder would “serve as the primary advisor to, and coordinate efforts across, the United States government relating to monitoring and combating anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incitement that occur in foreign countries.” The envoy is expected to be given the rank of an ambassador.

Opponents of the bill have pointed to the problematic nature of it citing the Congress adoption of a definition of anti-Semitism that equates criticism of Israel with racism. It’s feared that the new appointee will clamp down on domestic and international criticism of the Israeli government in a clear attack on free speech.