ZOA Action Alert: Oppose Senator Van Hollen’s Amendment to Damage Israeli (and American) Defense, If Israel Exercises Her Lawful Sovereign Rights

Dear Friends:

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and his co-sponsors (11 other leftwing Democratic Senators plus anti-Israel socialist Bernie Sanders) have proposed an outrageous anti-Israel, anti-American amendment (S. Amdt. 2435) to the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) for Fiscal Year 2021 (S. 4049) that would damage Israel’s defense, if Israel exercises her lawful sovereign rights in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley. While Senator Van Hollen’s proposed amendment will probably not pass in the Republican-controlled Senate, it is important to let all your Senators, and the amendment’s co-sponsors know that this proposed amendment violates U.S. international treaty obligations; damages Israeli (and American) security; undermines the purpose of the U.S.-Israeli MOU; and is a disastrous and foolish mistake. See suggested letter below.

Incidentally, the hostile-to-Israel, Soros-funded group JStreetPAC does extensive fundraising for Senator Van Hollen, and states that Senator Van Hollen “has been one of J Street’s strongest allies in Congress.”

Van Hollen’s Amendment Violates U.S. Treaty Obligations: Israel has absolute sovereign rights to Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley under international law — including the Anglo-American Convention and the UN Charter, which are U.S. treaty obligations. See “13 Reasons ZOA Strongly Supports Israel Restoring Her Rightful Sovereignty Over Judea-Samaria-Jordan Valley Now.” Punishing Israel for applying her sovereign rights would violate U.S. treaty obligations.

Van Hollen’s Amendment Damages Israeli and U.S. Security: The wording of Van Hollen’s amendment is so broad (see below), that it even applies to any Israeli equipment and training that the U.S. helped fund in the past, as well as items that the U.S. currently helps fund. The amendment could prevent potential deployments of: intelligence equipment and training; cyber-defenses; drone defenses; tunnel detection equipment and training; fire-fighting equipment and training; missile defense systems; IDF medical equipment and training used to assist Israeli and Palestinian-Arab populations; equipment and training for detecting weapons and explosives smuggling, money laundering, drugs and human trafficking – all of which may be needed to insure the safety of Israel’s entire population (including Arab safety) and American installations abroad. 

During Saddam Hussein’s 1991 bombardment of Israel with SCUD missiles, the Israel Defense Forces went to Palestinian-Arab areas of Judea and Samaria to give out gas masks. That too would be prevented under Van Hollen’s amendment, if any American funding were ever involved in producing the gas masks.

Parts of Judea and Samaria surround — and are simply suburbs of Israel’s major population centers in — Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa – yet Van Hollen and his 12 co-sponsors would restrict Israel from deploying the Iron Dome to protect Israel’s major population centers as needed. Missile defenses may also need to be stationed in Judea-Samaria to intercept: Hezbollah’s 150,000 missiles pointed at Israel during the next major Hezbollah attack on Israel; an Iranian missile attack (given Iran’s rapidly advancing missile capabilities); missile attacks from Jordan if King Abdullah’s weak regime falls to Palestinian-Arab and Iranian terrorists; or rockets from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist cells in the Palestinian Authority.

Indeed, the strategic value of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley to Israel’s overall defense and American interests is precisely one of the many reasons why Israel should apply her lawful sovereignty over at least parts of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley, and the United States should support this.

Van Hollen’s Amendment Violates the Purpose of the U.S.-Israeli MOU: The 2016 10-year U.S.-Israeli MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) states that “the ultimate intent of FMF [U.S. Foreign Military Financing] assistance is to help enable Israel to defend itself by itself and develop long-term capacity, primarily through the acquisition of advanced capabilities that are available from the United States.

Over 1,000 Israeli commanders in the Protectors of Israel movement (HaBithonistim) have explained that Israel’s application of her lawful sovereignty over the strategic Jordan Valley and at least parts of Judea and Samaria (whose elevated topography overlooks Israel’s major population centers) is essential for Israel to be able to defend herself by herself. Without these areas, Israel would be only 8.7 miles wide.

By punishing Israel for securing her rights that enable her to defend herself by herself, Van Hollen’s amendment violates the purpose of the U.S.-Israeli military understanding.

Van Hollen’s Proposal: Van Hollen’s amendment is entitled “Prohibition On Use Of Funds To Deploy Defense Articles, Services, Or Training To Certain Annexed Territories In The West Bank Or To Facilitate Annexation Of Such Territories,” and provides:

“None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by the United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2020, this Act, or any other Act enacted before the date of the enactment of this Act, or otherwise made available for the Department of Defense, may be obligated or expended 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.”

Who to write to:

Please write to your Senators, and ask them to oppose Van Hollen’s amendment. You can find your Senators’ contact information here.

(Feel free to send a copy of your letters to ZOA at mklein@zoa.org and dpollak@zoa.org.)

Please also tell the co-sponsors of the Van Hollen’s proposed amendment that you oppose it:

Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) – (202) 224-4654; www.vanhollen.senate.gov/contact/email

Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) – (202) 224-5653; www.baldwin.senate.gov/feedback

Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) – (202) 224-2315; www.brown.senate.gov/contact/

Tom Carper (D-Del.) – (202) 224-2441; www.carper.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-senator-carper

Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) – (202) 224-5521; www.heinrich.senate.gov/contact

Tim Kaine (D-Va.) – (202) 224-4024; www.kaine.senate.gov/contact

Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) – (202) 224-4242; www.leahy.senate.gov/contact/

Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) – (202) 224-3753; www.merkley.senate.gov/contact/

Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) – (202) 2244041; www.murphy.senate.gov/contact

Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) – (202) 224-5141; www.sanders.senate.gov/contact/

Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) – (202) 224-3934; www.schatz.senate.gov/contact

Tom Udall (D-N.M.) – (202) 224-6621; www.tomudall.senate.gov/?p=contact

Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) – (202) 224-4543; www.warren.senate.gov/?p=email_senator

Suggested Letter (or compose your own):

Dear Senator ______:

I strongly urge you to oppose the amendment (S. Amdt. 2435) proposed by U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen to the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) for Fiscal Year 2021 (S. 4049). This amendment would damage Israel’s defense, if Israel exercises her lawful sovereign rights in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley. Senator Van Hollen’s proposed amendment violates U.S. international treaty obligations, including the Anglo-American Convention and UN Charter, which guarantee Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley for the Jewish homeland; damages Israeli (and American) security; undermines the purpose of the U.S.-Israeli MOU, which is to enable Israel to defend herself by herself; and is a completely intolerable way to treat America’s close ally Israel. 

The U.S. can best support Israel’s security by supporting Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and at least parts of Judea and Samaria.



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