Israel beneficiary of U.S. strong-arm tactics against countries in Middle East

(AMP 08/18/2010) – Not only does the United States support Israel with more than $3 billion in unconditional military aid every year, but the Jewish state is also the beneficiary of American strong-arm tactics when it comes to other countries in the Middle East.

Earlier this month, the United States threatened to withhold U.S. foreign aid payments to Lebanon and Turkey because of their relationships with Israel. In fact, the U.S. is withholding a $100 million payout to Lebanon because of a border skirmish with Israeli soldiers that left four people dead on Aug. 3. This, despite the fact an Associated Press photograph proves the Israeli soldiers instigated the incident by trying to uproot trees on the Lebanese side of the border.

U.S. representatives Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Valley Village), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, voted to withhold the aid out of fear the Lebanese army  may be using the money to purchase weapons it could use against Israel, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In a related move, the London Financial Times newspaper reported on Monday that White House officials threatened to cut off aid to Turkey if that country doesn’t improve its relations with Israel. Those relations – which already were strained because of Israel’s attack on Gaza in the winter of 2008/09 that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians – took a turn for the worse after Israeli commandoes killed nine unarmed Turkish citizens, who were part of a flotilla taking humanitarian aid to the besieged residents of Gaza, in May.

One senior administration official said: “The president has said to (Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip) Erdogan that some of the actions that Turkey has taken have caused questions to be raised on the Hill [Congress]. . . about whether we can have confidence in Turkey as an ally. That means that some of the requests Turkey has made of us, for example in providing some of the weaponry … will be harder for us to move through Congress,” the Financial Times reported.

The White House has since denied any such statements were made.

“Both incidents show what sway the pro-Israel lobby has with U.S. congressmen. It also proves that the United States can, and does, use foreign aid payments as a leverage to manipulate the behavior of recipients,” said Dr. Hatem Bazian, AMP chairman and professor of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. “Activists for years have called on Congress to use the exact same tools to force Israel to improve its abysmal human rights record when it comes to its treatment of the occupied Palestinian people.”

The American Muslims for Palestine reaffirms its call to Congress to force Israel to end the occupation of Palestine and the siege on Gaza by withholding U.S. aid to Israel that is the equivalent of $7 million per day. Israel’s occupation is illegal and in direct violation of several international laws as well as United Nations Resolution 242. Israel’s human rights abuses are recorded regularly by several American, Palestinian and Israel human rights groups. The abuses are also documented annually by the U.S. Department of State.

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