The American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) made news headlines in Israeli media in June, over its alleged concession to allow US lawmakers and senators to criticize the forthcoming annexation of land from the occupied West Bank, as long as defunding Israel is not encouraged.

A donor to AIPAC, which the Times of Israel described as involved in lobbying the US Congress, set out the organization’s terms thus: “We are telling the senators ‘feel free to criticize annexation, but don’t cut off aid to Israel.’”

Congress members are heeding AIPAC’s instructions well. In a letter dated June 25 and addressed to Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and Foreign Minister Gaby Ashkenazi, 189 Democratic representatives urged the Israeli government to reconsider annexation to preserve Israel’s security and the chance of restarting diplomatic negotiations based upon the two-state paradigm.

“As committed partners in supporting and protecting the US-Israel relationship, we express our deep concern with the stated intention to move ahead with any unilateral annexation of West Bank territory, and we urge your government to reconsider plans to do so,” the letter concluded.

AIPAC stated it had not taken a position regarding annexation, and that it would not support the letter, which is being promoted by AIPAC allies, on the grounds that it does not take Israel’s security demands into consideration. By not taking a position against annexation, AIPAC is retaining the capability to shift its pro-Israel propaganda accordingly.

Four Democratic Congresswomen have defied AIPAC’s impositions. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Pramila Jayapal, and Betty McCollum have warned in a letter that they will “work to ensure non-recognition.”

Four Democratic Congresswomen, however, have defied AIPAC’s impositions. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Pramila Jayapal, and Betty McCollum have warned in a letter that they will “work to ensure non-recognition as well as pursue conditions on the $3.8 billion in US military funding to Israel” and on other financial aid given to the settler-colonial state, if Israel goes ahead with the annexation.

In recent years, AIPAC was critical of decisions taken by Netanyahu’s government, notably the overtures to extreme right-wing parties to bolster his chances of re-election in 2019. In the same year, AIPAC also expressed disagreement over the Israeli government’s decision to ban US representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from entering Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

The forthcoming annexation and its implications are already part of a twisted hegemonic narrative that does not include the Palestinian people. International opposition to the unilateral violation is an unequivocal attempt to protect Israel’s interests. Notably, as AIPAC clearly communicated, Israel cannot risk jeopardizing its dependence upon the US to retain its influence in the region.

A document published by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) notes that changing trends in US public opinion contribute to questioning US foreign assistance to Israel. The report also notes that, “Despite its status as a high income country, military power, and top global weapons exporter, Israel remains largely dependent on the United States for the procurement of certain high-cost US weapons systems, such as combat aircraft.”

“Despite its status as a high income country, military power, and top global weapons exporter, Israel remains largely dependent on the United States for the procurement of certain high-cost US weapons systems, such as combat aircraft.”

Equally important is the US commitment to ensure that Israel retains a “qualitative military edge” in the region. In 2008, the Arms Export Control Act was amended to ensure that any military assistance to Middle Eastern countries “will not adversely affect Israel’s qualitative military edge over military threats to Israel.”

Under former US President Barack Obama in 2016, Israel and the UN signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which granted Israel $3.8 billion USD annually for ten years. Also in 2016, Israel’s foreign military financing from the US amounted to 51.4 percent of the global funds for the purpose.

This political benevolence towards Israel is set to expand under US President Donald Trump. The United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2020 does not just amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2015. On the contrary, it deletes the entire text to pave the way for legalizing additional funding for Israel, besides the $3.8 billion USD which Israel receives annually from the US.

In other news, Israel’s Defense Ministry announced a market share of $7.2 billion USD in arms sales, keeping Israel in “the world’s top 10 security exporters.”

This is what AIPAC seeks to maintain – Israel’s influence at a global level when it comes to profiting from war, destabilization, and surveillance, all at the expense of the Palestinian population which serves as the colonial power’s weapons testing victims.

This is what AIPAC seeks to maintain – Israel’s influence at a global level when it comes to profiting from war, destabilization, and surveillance, all at the expense of the Palestinian population which serves as the colonial power’s weapons testing victims.

In terms of opposing Israeli colonization, therefore, AIPAC offers nothing substantial. Opposing Netanyahu’s tactics is not a new concept – each Israeli election offered insight in terms of how the electoral candidates envisaged the colonial project to continue. Netanyahu, however, has had a formidable ally in Trump, and intends to exploit the current US support for Israel in order to advance the next step.

AIPAC, which spouts the two-state rhetoric, does not need to speak out against annexation because both paradigms – the one dictated by the international community and the “Deal of the Century” are based upon the ongoing appropriation of Palestinian territory. Trump’s plan, of which Israel will implement only what suits its project, merely legitimizes the violation within Israeli laws.

By exerting influence in the US Congress through financial donations which are made by AIPAC members to support pro-Israel candidates, AIPAC can determine how criticism of Israel will take place and on what criteria. Congress members opposing annexation and yet beholden to AIPAC influence are still lending their support to the Israeli narrative. Not for one moment must any correspondence warning against annexation be misread as a pro-Palestine stance.

AIPAC’s acceptance of criticism directed at Israel is based upon the knowledge that none of the arguments will be advancing the Palestinian cause.

AIPAC’s acceptance of criticism directed at Israel is based upon the knowledge that none of the arguments will be advancing the Palestinian cause. Additionally, if the US government secures funding for Israel, even at a time when the US, like the rest of the world, has been plunged into economic uncertainties due to the coronavirus pandemic, AIPAC will have fulfilled its role.

Decades of Israeli colonization have been marked by different political strategies which the international community reacted to, always in accordance with the Israeli narrative. Now that annexation has become the trending theme, settlements, which for several years were portrayed as a point of contention due to violation of international law, are no longer the international community’s premise for its ineffective criticism of Israel. Annexation is the newsworthy word, and the international community will collude with Israel to use the term while exploiting Palestinian rights.

AIPAC uses a similar tactic to achieve the same end. The two-state paradigm and annexation are both paths to complete Israeli colonization of Palestine. What Israel needs, in both scenarios, is unwavering support from the US. Far from advocating for a harsher stance against Israel, AIPAC is seeking to maintain its monopoly over US politicians. Just as Israel obtained political concessions from the US during Trump’s presidency, AIPAC has a permanent mission ensuring that US politicians remain beholden to the so-called “Special Relationship.”

 

READ ALSO

On This 72nd Nakba Anniversary, Israeli Annexation Hastens the Erasure of Palestinian History

Latest US-Israel Peace Plan for Palestine Marks End of Two-State Solution

Ilhan Omar Is Right—The Pro-Israel Lobby Has Too Much Influence in Washington