ANNAPOLIS, Maryland — Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced H.R. 2590 to address U.S. involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, especially regarding U.S. funding for Israeli military operations. This piece of legislation primarily acts in support of the defense of human rights for Palestinian families and children. H.R. 2590 is not the first piece of legislation to address U.S. foreign relations pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since 2015, Rep. McCollum has been an active voice in the defense of human rights issues concerning the violence between Israel and Palestine, criticizing Israeli military occupation.
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Background
Since around 1948, the Israelis and Palestinians have clashed mainly due to conflict over territory and the religious significance of the ancient city of Jerusalem for both the Israeli Jews and the Palestinians. While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict roots in western colonialism and land ownership, the dispute grows to much more, reaching issues of ethnic cleansing, mass murder and other human rights violations.
The current situation is complicated. Israel maintains significant control over Palestine. It uses military force as a way to push Palestinians out and occupy the land known as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The history between the two entities follows a complex timeline with blame and violence from both sides. Despite the U.N.’s vote to split Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states and make Jerusalem an international city, the Arab side refused to agree while the Jewish leaders accepted. Due to a lack of agreement, regardless of the compromise made, the peace negotiation is never implemented.
The future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is uncertain due to the accumulation of issues from more than half a century of conflict between Israel and Palestine. The U.S. looks to legislation that can promote peace and prevent violence between Israel and Palestine as a way to aid in the conflict without directly intervening in foreign relations.
On April 30, 2019, Rep. McCollum introduced H.R. 2407. Similar to H.R. 2590, this bill promotes human rights for Palestinian children living under Israeli military occupation. The bill also addresses the need to cease U.S. funding for Israeli military operations due to its indirect support that violates international human rights laws.
H.R. 2407 prohibits the use of certain foreign aid funding to support military abuse or mistreatment of Palestinian children in violation of international humanitarian law. Additionally, the law provides NGO support, rehabilitation and treatment for Palestinian children that are harmed by the Israeli military. H.R. 2407 did not successfully make it out of the House of Representatives. However, Rep. McCollum later reintroduced it with significant amendments to the detail and provisions of the bill in the 2021-2022 congressional session.
H.R. Bill 2590: Palestinian Human Rights
On April 15, 2021, Rep. McCollum introduced a similar bill to H.R. 2407. H.R. 2590 addresses the U.S.’s funding support and alliance with Israel in efforts to prevent U.S. aid from supporting the Israeli military’s detention of Palestinian children or Palestinian property and land violations.
A key issue in the U.S. debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is whether or not U.S. taxpayer money should be used for support to Israel. Though the U.S. alliance with Israel is a longstanding, strong relationship, U.S. politicians, citizens and advocacy groups do not want the U.S. funding to go toward Israeli military operations due to the military’s history of international human rights violations against the Palestinians.
In fact, H.R. 2590 prohibits U.S. funding for Israeli military operations. H.R. 2590 has 13 original co-sponsors, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar. Additionally, more than 50 organizations endorse the bill, such as the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL).
The vast support of H.R. 2590 among various religious groups, political organizations and advocacy groups is promising for the future of the bill. With greater support and endorsements, the bill has a significantly higher chance of passing and becoming law.
How H.R. 2590 Helps
While the politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a matter for any external government, H.R. 2590 acts in defense of international human rights as upheld by intergovernmental organizations such as the U.N. and Human Right Watch. It is the moral duty of all countries to uphold the human rights of all citizens around the globe.
Providing Israel with funding and weapons to support the Israeli military encourages the ongoing violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Not only does it encourage violence but also indirectly causes violence by giving the military the resources and increased ability to obstruct Palestinian human rights.
H.R. 2590 reflects the role of the U.S. government as a global leader and an ally by promoting peace and advocating for human rights. This action promotes reconciliation and discourages violence. It is hopeful that prohibiting U.S. funding for Israeli military operations will also help protect Palestinian human rights.
– Kylie Lally