WASHINGTON, Tuesday, August 03, 2021 (WAFA) – Seven members of the US Congress wrote the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen demanding an investigation into US charities supporting illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
“We write to express our extreme concern that US charities are funding and providing direct support to Israeli organizations that are working to expand and perpetuate Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise in violation of international law, including supporting the dispossession and forced displacement of Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem neighborhoods. We are concerned that these policies violate US obligations under international law, as well as federal tax law,” wrote Representatives Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Andre Carson, Betty McCollum, Mark Pocan, Ayyana Pressley and Cori Bush.
“Since Israeli forces occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in 1967, Israeli authorities have pursued an unlawful settlement enterprise in occupied territory—an aggressive policy of seizing lands either privately owned by, or collectively used by Palestinians, and allocating them for the use and enjoyment of Jewish Israelis. Israeli authorities utilize discriminatory housing, land, and property legal regimes and impermissible military justifications to dispossess Palestinians of their lands, or destroy Palestinian homes, property, and essential civilian infrastructure. Israeli authorities and private Israeli settler organizations in collaboration with Israeli authorities have established some 200 Jewish -only settlements that house over 600,000 Israeli citizens.”
The US lawmakers added: “The broader settlement enterprise to create and sustain illegal settlements, pursuant to Israel’s policy of settling its civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, is in direct contravention of international humanitarian law. This was reaffirmed by an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice in 2004 as well as UN Security Council Resolution 2334, adopted on December 23, 2016, which reiterates previous Security Council resolutions calling on Israel to cease all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
“The United States government, as a party to the Fourth Geneva Convention and under customary international law, has a duty to not encourage or recognize violations of international humanitarian law or peremptory norms and must also act to end violations of international humanitarian law. The United States government’s obligation prohibits not only explicit recognition of an illegal situation but also extends to actions that would simply imply recognition.”
The lawmakers named the Central Fund of Israel (CFI) as one of the charities that has tax-exempt non-profit status, “among several US-based groups fueling the dispossession and displacement of Palestinians to make way for Jewish Israeli settlers.”
“CFI and other private actors that fund the Israeli settlement enterprise are receiving concrete benefits and recognition from the Department of the Treasury and its largest bureau, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), while acting in direct contradiction to the United States government’s long-standing public policy position opposing the development and expansion of Israeli settlements within occupied territory,” wrote the members of Congress, demanding the Treasury Secretary to examine the status of CFI and other charities that support illegal settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.