US bill introduced to strip Israel of funds over annexation

US bill introduced to strip Israel of funds over annexation
Members of Israeli security stand guard during a Palestinian demonstration to protest Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, in the Palestinian village of Haris, southwest of Nablus, on August 7, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 16 August 2020

US bill introduced to strip Israel of funds over annexation

US bill introduced to strip Israel of funds over annexation
  • The bill comes in the wake of the surprise decision by the UAE to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel in exchange for the latter putting its annexation plans on hold
  • In May, Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden said if elected president in November, his administration would not give Israel a “green light” to pursue annexation

CHICAGO: Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum on Friday introduced a bill to strip Israel of US funding if it moves forward with the annexation of large areas of the occupied West Bank.

The bill comes in the wake of the surprise decision by the UAE to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel in exchange for the latter putting its annexation plans on hold.

“I reject annexation, I condemn annexation, and I’ll work to ensure the US doesn’t support, defend or legitimize any plan or action by Israel to illegally annex Palestinian lands,” McCollum said, adding that the agreement between Israel and the UAE “changes nothing.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump “have taken nothing off the table,” she said.

“Their promises and commitments are worthless. They’ve both proven time and time (again) that they can’t be trusted,” she added. “Reports of annexation being off the table can’t be taken at face value.”

In May, Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden said if elected president in November, his administration would not give Israel a “green light” to pursue annexation.

McCollum’s law is co-sponsored by six Democrats: Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Mark Pocan, Rep. Ilhan Omar and Rep. Andre Carson.

“The Israeli government’s continued unilateral attempts to violate the human rights of the Palestinian people should be condemned and rejected,” said Wisconsin Congressman Pocan.

“Greenlit by the Trump administration, Netanyahu has consistently served as a roadblock to peace and a two-state solution,” he added.

“Palestinians and Israelis deserve to live peacefully, thus Congress must oppose US funding for annexation.”

The bill could receive more endorsements, but it is unlikely that if passed in the the Democratic-controlled House or a Democratic-controlled Senate after November’s election it would get enough votes to become law.

“I want Palestinians and Israelis to have their human rights respected, their right to self-determination realized, and a future with peace, security, equality and justice,” McCollum said in introducing the bill.

“Annexation is antithetical to these goals and will fuel instability, injustice, and an abhorrent system of apartheid. This is an intolerable outcome for Palestinians, Israelis and Americans.”

The bill has been endorsed by more than 30 pro-Palestinian activist organizations, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Jewish Voice for Peace, the National Council of Churches and the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights.


Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce

Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce
In this file photo taken on November 19, 2020, a Libyan stands in front of a school, which was damaged during fighting between rival factions, in the capital Tripoli's suburb of Ain Zara. (AFP)
Updated 24 January 2021

Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce

Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce
  • Ankara and Moscow appear intent on defending their interests under any final settlement

TRIPOLI: Foreign forces ignored a deadline to pull out of Libya as scheduled on Saturday under a UN-backed cease-fire deal, highlighting the fragility of peace efforts after a decade of conflict.

Satellite images broadcast by CNN show a trench running tens of kilometers dug by “Russian mercenaries” near the frontline coastal city of Sirte, as main foreign protagonists Ankara and Moscow appear intent on defending their interests under any final settlement.
An unidentified US intelligence official, quoted by the American news network, said there was “no intent or movement by either Turkish or Russian forces to abide by the UN-brokered agreement.”
“This has the potential to derail an already fragile peace process and cease-fire. It will be a really difficult year ahead,” he said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged all “regional and international actors to respect the provisions” of the Oct. 23 cease-fire accord that set out a withdrawal within three months of all foreign troops and mercenaries.
That deadline passed on Saturday, with no movement announced or observed on the ground.
The UN estimates there are still some 20,000 foreign troops and mercenaries in Libya helping the warring factions, the UN-recognized Government of National Accord in Tripoli and military strongman Khalifa Haftar in the east. The GNA has received military support from Turkey. Haftar has the backing of Russia.
Guterres called on all parties to implement the terms of the cease-fire “without delay,” something he noted “includes ensuring the departure of all foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya, and the full and unconditional respect of the Security Council arms embargo,” which has been in place since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted and killed longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi.

HIGHLIGHT

The UN estimates there are still some 20,000 foreign troops and mercenaries in Libya helping the warring factions.

Any withdrawal or end to foreign interference “does not depend on the Libyans but on the outside powers,” said Khaled Al-Montasser, professor of international relations at Tripoli University.
Turkey on Friday welcomed a deal reached at UN-backed talks for Libya’s warring factions to set up an interim executive to rule the North African country until polls in December.
Turkey has backed the GNA with military advisers, materiel and mercenaries, repelling an advance on Tripoli by Haftar’s forces, and it also has a military base in Al-Watiya on the border with Tunisia under a 2019 military accord.
Last December, parliament in Ankara extended by 18 months its authorization for Turkey’s troop deployment in Libya, in apparent disregard of the cease-fire deal.
“The mercenaries are unlikely to leave Libya so long as the countries which have engaged them have not guaranteed their interests in the new transitional phase,” said Montasser, referring to the multiple tracks of UN-sponsored talks currently underway.
“Their presence keeps alive the threat of military confrontation at any moment, while the current calm staying in place seems uncertain,” he said.
Most of the foreign forces are concentrated around Sirte, at Al-Jufra airbase held by Haftar’s forces 500 km south of Tripoli and further west in Al-Watiya.