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January 16, 2024

Local New Mexico Organizations Urge Senators Heinrich and Lujan to Support a Ceasefire and Other Measures to End the War in Gaza.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, January 16, 2024

NIAC CONTACT: Etan Mabourakh | 954.817.3022 | [email protected]

NIAC New Mexico Contact: Ali Scotten | 773.573.8761 | [email protected]

New Mexico: Today, a group of 6 organizations in New Mexico state delivered a letter calling on the U.S. Senators Heinrich and Lujan to support a ceasefire in Gaza as well as further legislative initiatives to ensure that U.S. military aid to Israel and other countries complies with U.S. and international law. Senators Heinrich and Lujan have yet to publicly express support for a ceasefire, though both have expressed support for Senator Chris Van Hollen’s Amendment to the supplemental aid package requiring that use of U.S. aid complies with U.S. & International Law.

The coalition, part of a national campaign taking part in 17 states, includes peace, antiwar, faith-based, and other organizations and individuals such as Jewish Voice for Peace Albuquerque, ProgressNow New Mexico Education Fund, The Gaia Project, Taoseños for Peaceful and Livable Futures, Albuquerque Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, and NIAC Action New Mexico.

These groups and individuals underscore in their letter that putting an end to all of the hostilities in Gaza is the safest way to secure the remaining hostages while simultaneously rebuilding a diplomatic foundation upon which peace and stability can be achieved.

The timing of this initiative is crucial, both in terms of the urgency of ending the slaughter in Gaza as thousands face starvation on top of the ongoing military offensive, and with the Senate likely taking up legislative measures next week. Foremost is Senator Bernie Sanders’ S.Res. 504 invoking Section 502(B)c of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, which would require a State Department report on Israel’s human rights violations. The organizations urged support for this resolution, along with the amendment offered by Senator Chris Van Hollen to the proposed supplemental funding bill with concentrated aid to Israel.

Following is the text of the letter and list of signers:

Dear Senators Heinrich and Lujan,

Thank you for supporting Sen. Van Hollen’s Amendment to the supplemental requiring that use of US aid comply with US & International Law.

We, the undersigned organizations, also urge you to cosponsor and vote in favor of S.Res.504, Senator Bernie Sanders’ resolution under Section 502B(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act (22 U.S.C. § 2304) requiring a report on Israel’s human rights practices and U.S. military aid to Israel. After months of devastation in Gaza, there is urgent need for a meaningful debate on U.S. support for Israeli operations in Gaza and the West Bank, including the extent to which U.S. military aid may be supporting violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. 

In response to the horrific October 7th attacks by Hamas, Israel has conducted a military campaign resulting in the deaths of nearly 20,000 Palestinians in Gaza, approximately 70 percent of whom are women and children. Senator Sanders recently called the bombardment of Gaza “not just a humanitarian cataclysm, but a mass atrocity. And it is being done with bombs & equipment produced and provided by the United States and heavily subsidized by American taxpayers.” President Biden has also stated that Israel is engaging in “indiscriminate bombing.” 

Human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have documented egregious violations of international humanitarian law by both Hamas and the Israeli military. Hamas’ atrocities on October 7th — as well as its continued holding of hostages and rocket launches into Israel — do not relieve Israel of its responsibility to protect its people in a manner consistent with international humanitarian law. But as the Israeli offensive devastates Gaza, including through Israel’s siege, the United States continues to provide a steady stream of bombs, missiles, drones, artillery shells, and ammunitionall apparently without conditions. The Biden administration has even bypassed Congressional oversight through an emergency transfer authority. Despite investigations revealing potential war crimes committed by Israeli forces, the State Department has admitted that it has not been assessing Israel’s compliance with international law throughout the conflict.

S.Res.504 offers an opportunity to affirm Congress’s important oversight role, mandating that the Biden administration document and report on any human rights violations committed by the Israeli government. Congress should ensure that arms transfers and military aid provided to Israel, or any country, are consistent with U.S. law and policy, international law, and civilian protection responsibilities. The resolution would be an important step toward these goals. 

Upon Senate passage, this resolution would require a report from the State Department on Israel’s human rights practices within thirty days. The resolution and debate it generates would open the door to potential follow-on Congressional action.

Congress stands at a pivotal moment. It is long overdue for the Senate to hold a public vote and debate on U.S. complicity in Israeli human rights abuses against Palestinians living under occupation and bombardment, and to reassert Congressional oversight powers over U.S. arms transfer policy and foreign policy. We, the undersigned organizations, endorse this resolution and urge all Senators to cosponsor and vote in favor of S.Res.504.

Sincerely,

Albuquerque Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker)

Jewish Voice for Peace Albuquerque

NIAC Action New Mexico

ProgressNow New Mexico Education Fund

Taoseños for Peaceful and Livable Futures

The Gaia Project

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