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Ambassador Erdan slams Ocasio-Cortez for her bid to block arms sale to Israel

Israel’s envoy in Washington says amendment by progressive US congresswoman ‘legitimizes’ Hamas’s ‘heinous attacks against innocent civilians’

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan and US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (Shahar Azran; AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan and US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (Shahar Azran; AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Israeli Ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan criticized Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for submitting an amendment to the annual US defense spending bill to block the sale of precision-guided munitions to Israel.

“I would expect a Congressperson to understand that Israel is defending its citizens against Hamas, a designated terrorist organization,” tweeted Erdan on Saturday night. “Your amendment further legitimizes their heinous attacks against innocent civilians, as well as antisemitic lies.”

Erdan added that the strategic alliance between Israel and the US is “critical to the security of our two countries. Israel is a world leader in the fight against terrorism, and our partnership has helped prevent terrorist attacks against American citizens many times in the past.”

The amendment submitted last week by Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic representative from New York, would prevent the transfer of $735 million worth of joint direct attack munition (JDAM) tail kits to Israel. The kits turn unguided bombs into GPS guided missiles. However, it is almost certain not to pass, given the majority on both sides of the aisle in favor of US military support for Israel.

In a tweet, Ocasio-Cortez said her amendment was “over the bombing of Palestinian civilians [and] media centers,” apparently referring to the bombing, during an 11-day conflict in May, of a building in Gaza City that housed the offices of the Associated Press and Al-Jazeera.

Israel has said that the building was used by Hamas to try to disrupt the Iron Dome missile defense system during the conflict. The Israeli military gave occupants of the building an hour to evacuate before it carried out its airstrike. No one was injured, but the high-rise was flattened into a pile of rubble.

The amendment is the second attempt by Ocasio-Cortez to block the JDAM sale to Israel. After the Biden administration formally notified Congress of the weapons transfer on May 5, she — along with Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Mark Pocan — submitted a joint resolution of disapproval to block the sale.

However, the matter was never brought to a vote, as the Senate version of the resolution sponsored by Bernie Sanders was determined to have been submitted too late. The State Department went on to grant the Boeing weapons manufacturer a commercial license to sell JDAMs and Small Diameter Bombs to Israel.

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