Global Ministries joins interfaith effort asking U.S. State Department to review Israeli aid for human rights violations
In keeping with its commitment to speak out against potential human rights violations in the occupied territories in Israel-Palestine, Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has joined an ecumenical effort of 11 churches and faith groups asking the U.S. Department of State to review aid given to the state of Israel.
Religious representatives met with and presented four cases to the State Department on Tuesday, Dec. 8, documenting possible human rights violations by Israeli military and security forces. The group is seeking accountability to ensure U.S. military aid to the Israeli government — about $3 billion annually — is complaint with U.S. law and is not used in violating people’s rights. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign military assistance.
Peter Makari, Global Ministries executive for the Middle East and Europe, explained that, “From the United Church of Christ perspective, this is consistent with the implementation of the General Synod resolution passed this summer on peace in Israel-Palestine.” That resolution called, in part, for advocacy to Congress for accountability of U.S. aid to the Israeli government.
“We’ve been working on compiling theses documents for a few weeks,” Makari said. “It’s part of an ongoing effort to raise particular cases with elected officials of ensuring human rights are not violated in the occupation.”
The “Leahy Laws” or “Leahy Amendments” in the Foreign Assistance Act and several annual Defense Department appropriations acts state, “No assistance shall be furnished under this [Foreign Assistance] Act or the Arms Export Control Act to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”
The UCC and Disciples of Christ are joined in the effort by the American Friends Service Committee, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, the Mennonite Central Committee U.S., Pax Christi International and Pax Christi USA, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Methodist Church.
The group believes that by providing the information, the Department of State should review the evidence and designate the military units involved as ineligible for foreign assistance. The faith groups also affirmed that they stand unequivocally opposed to all human rights violations by any actor — state or non-state — as well as any group or individual that is a party to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“We will continue to raise violations of human rights as it pertains to the occupation,” Makari said. “It’s an ongoing concern of the United Church of Christ, given the massive amount of military aid sent, that the recipients are held in compliance of that aid.”
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