Some 51 anti-war groups, including a think tank backed by George Soros and Charles Koch, have urged US presidential hopeful Joe Biden to leverage America's annual $3.8 billion aid to Israel to pressure the Zionist state to abide by UN Security Resolutions and international law, in a letter calling on the Presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee to commit to a "principled foreign policy".
In the seven-page letter, seen by MEMO, the signatories decried US foreign policy, describing it as having been "overly focused" on confronting perceived adversaries and the global projection of US military power. "Doing so," the signatories said, "has militarized our response to global challenges, distorted our national security spending priorities, toxified our political discourse, and left us woefully ill-prepared to confront the growing transnational threats to human security we face today that do not have military solutions," noting that the cost of American militarism since 9/11 has been more than $6.4 trillion.
"It is time to end our endless wars and adopt a new approach to international relations, one in which the U.S. abides by international law, encourages others to do the same, and utilizes our military solely for the defense of the people of our country," the signatories added before laying out ten of foreign policy goal including reducing the Pentagon budget; engaging with Iran; ending support for governments that violate human right; closing Guantanamo.
On Israel and Palestine, the letter urged Biden to "use a combination of pressure and incentives, including leveraging the annual $3.8 billion in U.S. military funding to Israel" towards an agreement that upholds UN Security Council Resolutions and international law and ends "Israel's military occupation; disbanding Israel's illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem; ending the Israeli military blockade of Gaza; and ending all attacks on civilians."
The letter, sent on Monday, arrived amid a heated debate in the US over Israel's planned annexation of the West Bank, which critics say will see the end of the two-state solution. The Trump administration has given the green light to what many view as a clear violation of international law. Earlier this month 32 leading US foreign policy professionals, including former US envoys to Israel, reacted to the many unilateral Israeli moves by urging the Democratic Party to adopt a pro-Palestinian platform in the coming election.
Concerns over Israel's annexation of the West Bank prompted Democrat Senators to issue a warning to Israel in a letter addressed to Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz saying to the Israeli leaders that unilateral annexation would signal it no longer valued the bipartisan support provided by Congress.
Pro-Israel groups however have dismissed these concerns. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) hit out at the Democrats suggesting that "doing anything to weaken this vital relationship [between the US and Israel] would be a mistake." The statement cited Israel's role as a "pillar of America's regional security framework," reported the Jerusalem Post.
US lawmakers' preoccupation with Israel has also prompted a backlash in Capitol Hill over the International Criminal Court's (ICC) conclusion earlier this month that it had jurisdiction over Palestine and could thus make a determination over Israeli war crimes in the occupied territory.
Hundreds of American members of Congress are said to have signed two letters to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to continue his "vigorous support of Israel as it faces the growing possibility of investigations and prosecutions by the International Criminal Court" over potential war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.