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US Congressman drops support for Israel's normalisation agreements 

Congressman Jamaal Bowman in New York, 14 June 2021 [Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images]
Congressman Jamaal Bowman in New York, 14 June 2021 [Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images]

US Congressman, Jamaal Bowman, of New York is dropping his support for a bill that would help Israel expand normalisation agreements with Arab countries.

In a letter to constituents, Bowman said he has been persuaded that the normalisation agreements – later dubbed the Abraham Accords – with the UAE and Bahrain at the White House in September 2020, serve to isolate the Palestinians and do not advance a just outcome.

He explained in the letter that his decision to pull his support of the bill came following his trip to Israel, last year, with a small group of other Democrats in Congress. Bowman met with Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, and on the same day, he met with Palestinian children in the West Bank city of Hebron.

"On this visit, I continued to dig deep and engage people directly on the ground, including high level Palestinian and Israeli government officials," Bowman wrote in the letter.

"While I originally co-sponsored the Israel Relations Normalisation Act, seeing it as an opportunity to make progress toward justice and healing in the Middle East as well as a path to a two state solution, my experience on the ground and further conversation with constituents led me to see that it is not the right step to fulfil these goals."

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Bowman tweeted about his visit where he criticised Israel's occupation of Palestine. "Had the honour of meeting with children today in the occupied West Bank city Hebron" said the representative from New York. "There are streets they cannot walk and places they cannot go, simply because they are Palestinian. When I asked about their dreams, their answer was simple: freedom.  Bowman continued. "The occupation must end."

He also expressed concern that some of the incentives for the Accords are at odds with his values. The United Arab Emirates has scored the sale of advanced fighter jets and Morocco earned US recognition of its sovereignty over the Western Sahara.

"In the end, it is my estimation that these actions will only escalate violence in the Middle East and make already vulnerable communities less safe," Bowman said in the letter. The normalisation deals have drawn widespread condemnation from Palestinians, who say the Accords ignore their rights and do not serve the Palestinian cause.

He added, "This agreement to normalise relations unhelpfully isolates Palestine and Western Sahara, when what we need is a process that engages them."

Bowman was endorsed by Democratic Socialists of America in 2020, when he defeated long time Representative, Eliot Engel, in the Democratic primary.

READ: UN calls on Israel to stop demolition of Palestinian homes

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