Originally published in JNS.

A Senate amendment has been introduced that would prohibit U.S. funding for Israel to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, also known as Judea and Samaria.

A group of 13 Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), filed an amendment to the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would not allow U.S. assistance to “deploy or support the deployment of United States defense articles, services or training to territories in the West Bank unilaterally annexed by Israel after July 1, 2020, or to facilitate the unilateral annexation of such territories.”

Other legislators who support the amendment were Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the American Jewish Congress oppose the amendment, while J Street supports it.

AIPAC tweeted, “@ChrisVanHollen wants to ensure no U.S. funds are used for annexation. But that’s already law. Aid can only be used for “internal security, for legitimate self-defense.” This amendment goes far beyond current law in ways that jeopardize Israel’s security.”

“It’s dangerous to weaken Israel’s defenses, especially as it faces unprecedented threats,” added AIPAC. “A strong Israel advances our interests—including deterring war and promoting peace—and is a key pillar of our regional security strategy. Weakening Israel weakens us.”

“Recognizing that Israel’s ability to defend itself against multiple threats in a hostile Middle East is of paramount importance and is deserving of financial assistance, the Obama Administration enshrined this principle in a Memorandum of Understanding negotiated between the two countries, although there was disagreement on some of Israel’s political and policy initiatives,” said AJCongress president Jack Rosen in a statement, referring to the 10-year MOU signed between the United States and Israel worth $3.8 billion annually in assistance from the former to the latter.

“Despite the Memorandum’s requirements and Israel’s compliance, the proposed NDAA amendment incorrectly implies that the security aid can, indeed, be freely used for annexation. Senator Van Hollen himself has confirmed that ‘No U.S. funds are currently being expended on unilateral annexation, and this amendment would ensure that remains the case,’ ” added Rosen.

“The Van Hollen amendment says US aid should be used for Israel’s defense, not Netanyahu’s annexation of the West Bank,” tweeted J Street. “To be clear, AIPAC is arguing that your tax dollars should help pay for annexation.”

© 2020 American Jewish Congress.