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February 6, 2024

NIAC Statement on Upcoming Vote for Senate Supplemental Aid Package

National Iranian American Council Action is deeply concerned by the supplemental package that may receive a vote in the U.S. Senate this week. 

The decision to send more weaponry to Israel, without precondition and undermining existing notification and approval processes as well as humanitarian aid to Palestinians, would further link the U.S. to one of the worst civilian slaughters of the 21st Century. The U.S. must prioritize ending the bloodshed in Gaza and ending the related escalatory cycle in the region that threatens to pull the U.S. into a disastrous regional war, not sending more weapons to fuel the conflict. Moreover, the proposals to gut due process and asylum review at the border in perpetuity in exchange for temporary foreign military funding is a bad bargain that will undermine core American principles and values and validate xenophobic approaches to immigration that have caused so much harm over the years.

As a result, National Iranian American Council Action strongly urges Senators to reject this proposal. While we recognize that politics is the art of compromise, and that this is a massive piece of legislation that seeks to accomplish many things – some of which are worthy – the following items would compromise both American values and security and should be rejected:

  • Underwriting Israel’s slaughter of more than 27,000 Palestinians following the horrific October 7th attack, including more than 11,000 children, with billions of dollars for new offensive weaponry. This follows a ruling by the International Court of Justice ordering Israel to take all possible measures to prevent genocidal acts and ensure the provision of humanitarian aid, which has gone unheeded.
  • Failing to condition aid to Israel on compliance with U.S. and international law, as called for by a draft amendment offered by several Democratic Senators. By writing a blank check, the U.S. would be failing to use its significant leverage and rewarding a state in flagrant violation of all norms of human rights related to civilian protection.
  • Undermining existing Congressional oversight of arms sales to Israel by waiving notification requirements for U.S. assistance to Israel under the Foreign Military Financing Program. By exempting Israel from considerations of whether U.S. arms will be used to commit war crimes, it risks prolonging a green light to commit mass violations of human rights and undermining U.S. moral authority across the board.
  • By cutting off any and all aid for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the supplemental would gut the ability of the most prominent humanitarian aid provider on the ground in Gaza to address the civilian crisis in Gaza where countless civilians have been displaced, injured and face famine and deadly disease. Punishing the many for the alleged actions of the few is collective punishment and flies in the face of the ruling by the International Court of Justice and the warnings of many other humanitarian organizations familiar with the complexities of responding to the worsening humanitarian crisis.
  • Upending existing due process and asylum review at the border in perpetuity in exchange for temporary foreign military funding is a bad bargain that will undermine core American principles and values and validate xenophobic approaches to immigration that have caused so much harm over the years.

As the war in Gaza has gone on, risks to U.S. security have increased. This includes increasing threats to U.S. troops in the Middle East – in particular, in Syria, Iraq and Jordan – and the drift into direct military confrontation with the Houthis in Yemen without Congressional authorization. Providing a blank check to Israel as its retaliatory campaign continues, no-holds-barred, not only misses an opportunity to move Israel closer to compliance with international and U.S. human rights obligations, it also misses an opportunity to use leverage to stop a drift toward regional war.

We urge the Senate to reject this supplemental and to instead work to use its considerable leverage to pursue peace and security in Israel and Palestine and the entire Middle East, while preserving due process and asylum processing for those fleeing violence and instability.

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