US Jewish groups hail House bill giving aid to Israel, Palestinians

Legislation assures 2016 deal of $3.8 billion in security aid to Jewish state, will also provide $225 million to Palestinians

Illustrative: In this January 6, 2021, photo speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks in the House Chamber. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)
Illustrative: In this January 6, 2021, photo speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks in the House Chamber. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)

US Jewish organizations hailed the US House of Representatives for passing a bill Thursday that includes assistance to both Israel and the Palestinians.

Among other things, the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs appropriations bill provides Israel with the annual $3.3 billion in US security assistance that was agreed to in 2016.

“This critical funding, with no added political conditions, reflects the strong bipartisan support for Israel’s security in Congress and the Biden Administration,” the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said in a statement.

“We appreciate the efforts of several members who worked to include key pro-Israel provisions in the bill,” AIPAC said, adding that it urges the Senate to also approve the security assistance to Israel “with no added political conditions.”

The bill includes $225 million in assistance to the West Bank and Gaza, and a 12 percent increase to the Migration and Refugee Account used by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

The legislation also includes $50 million in funding to build partnerships between Israelis and Palestinians through the Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act, and another $6 million for a program to facilitate collaborative research between Israeli and Arab scientists.

The vote in the House was 217-212, with Republicans opposing the bill because it dropped a legislative provision barring US federal funds from being used to pay for most abortions.

A Palestinian man loads a horse cart with sacks of flour received from the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), at a warehouse in Gaza City, September 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

J Street said it was “particularly pleased” with the pro-Israel and pro-peace elements in the bill.

The dovish Jewish organization said it would also “continue to lobby for legislation to require stronger, more specific transparency measures and restrictions on the end uses of US-sourced military equipment, including equipment bought with US aid to Israel, to ensure that it cannot be diverted to support acts of creeping annexation or other violations of international law. ”

The Democratic Majority for Israel applauded the vast majority of House Democrats who voted in favor of the bill.

“Just three Democrats joined House Republicans [in voting against the bill]. Every other Democrat voted yes on this critical bill, demonstrating once again that the vast majority of Congressional Democrats remain proudly pro-Israel,” it said in a statement.

The Democrats who voted against the bill were congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Cori Bush of Missouri, who have all been vocal critics of Israel.

“We applaud House Democrats for approving critical funding for Israel’s security as codified in the Obama-Biden Memorandum of Understanding,” DMFI President Mark Mellman said.

“The House measure also includes funding for several vital programs that we hope will lay the groundwork for cooperation and peace in the region while strengthening the US-Israel relationship,” he added.

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