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AOC Moves to Block US’s $735M Weapons Sale to Israel Citing Human Rights Abuses

The sale was routine, but recent violence has led progressives to take action against Israel’s settler colonialism.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks at a campaign rally in Queensbridge Park on October 19, 2019, in the Queens borough of New York City.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) is planning to introduce a resolution to block the U.S.’s planned $735 million weapons sale to Israel amid its current assault on Palestinians.

As first reported by Jewish Currents, Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution would block the sale of Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMs, which make up the bulk of the planned sale, and small diameter bombs. Both weapons are “smart” bombs that have tracking technology, and The Washington Post previously described JDAMs as “precision-guided missiles.”

Israel has used both types of bombs during the latest attacks on Gaza, during which Israel has killed over 200 Palestinians over the past two weeks. The bombs are manufactured by Boeing.

“The United States should not be rubber-stamping weapons sales to the Israeli government as they deploy our resources to target international media outlets, schools, hospitals, humanitarian missions and civilian sites for bombing,” tweeted Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday. “We have a responsibility to protect human rights.”

Ocasio-Cortez also encouraged supporters to call their representatives if they’d like to see her resolution and similar proposals passed. “It must be said here — amplification is necessary but not sufficient. Traction on this issue is very dependent on your calls to Congress,” she wrote.

Ocasio-Cortez’s legislation, which is yet to be released, has been co-sponsored by Representatives Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin), Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), Cori Bush (D-Missouri), Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota), Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), writes Alex Kane of Jewish Currents. It also has the support of several organizations like IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace that advocate for Palestinian rights.

The bomb sale was planned before the latest escalation of attacks and was considered routine. On top of weapons sales, the U.S. typically sends billions of dollars per year to Israel via appropriations and as of November 2020, had sent a total of $146 billion, not adjusted for inflation, according to the Congressional Research Service. Reports have found that the U.S.’s support has been crucial to Israel’s settler colonialism.

Progressive lawmakers have been advocating for the White House to undo its blocking of a ceasefire statement from the United Nations as some more moderate Democrats appear to be turning the corner on their uncritical support of Israel.

“At a time when so many, including our President, support a ceasefire, we should not be sending ‘direct attack’ weaponry to Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu to prolong this violence,” reads an email from Ocasio-Cortez’s office, as obtained by Jewish Currents. “It is long past time to end the US policy of unconditional military arms sales, particularly to governments that have violated human rights.”

Israel’s human rights violations are vast and nearly innumerable over the decades of oppression and violent targeting of Palestinians in an attempt to drive them out of their homeland.

Organizations like Human Rights Watch have finally begun to describe the violence against Palestinians as “apartheid” after resisting the application of that label until now — despite the realities on the ground for Palestinians. The Palestinians have been speaking up about the Israeli-perpetrated apartheid for decades, documenting abhorrent human rights abuses that generations of Palestinians have been forced to suffer.

Progressive U.S. lawmakers have also begun labeling the violence as apartheid as Israel pummels the Gaza Strip with vicious and indiscriminate attacks killing hundreds of civilians in the process. “Apartheid states aren’t democracies,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted last week, as some moderate Democrats have hailed Israel as a democratic government.

Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution isn’t likely to pass the 51-member House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has purview over arms sales. But the proposal could set up a debate on the House floor on the issue that Kane writes would be “unprecedented” and could lead to more pressure on President Joe Biden to go further in supporting Palestinians as they face unending terror from the Israeli government.

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