A victory for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and her so-called “Squad” of progressive Democrats was very short-lived after Congress on Thursday voted overwhelming in favor of advancing extra military aid to Israel.
Last weekend, AOC boasted of having successfully amended a critical budgetary bill to remove $1 billion earmarked to help Israel replenish its stockpile of Iron Dome interceptor missiles, which was severely depleted as a result of last May’s Gaza war.
But already on Thursday, the House of Representatives voted on the aid to Israel as a separate bill. It overwhelmingly passed by a vote of 420-9. Eight Democrats and one Republican voted against the motion. AOC herself inexplicably abstained by voting “present.”
The separate bill to aid Israel now needs to be approved by the Senate, which at press time had yet to set a date for the vote.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett lauded Congress for rapidly overturning the Squad’s move against Israel. “Thank you to the members of the US House of Representatives, Democrats and Republicans alike, for the overwhelming support for Israel and for the commitment to its security,” read a statement released by the Israeli leader.
Meanwhile, a group of more mainstream progressive Democratic lawmakers, who differentiate themselves from AOC and the Squad by defining themselves as pro-Israel, presented legislation to push the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict back to the front of the diplomatic agenda.
Introduced by Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI), the Two-State Solution Act seek to “preserve conditions for, and improve the likelihood of, a two-state solution that secures Israel’s future as a democratic state and a national home for the Jewish people, a viable, democratic Palestinian state.”
To achieve that aim, the legislation would obligate the US government to, among other things, restrict Israel’s use of American aid in the so-called “West Bank.” For instance, that money could not be in any way tied to Jewish settlement construction or the demolition of the homes of Palestinian terrorists as a means of deterrence.
But the bill already faces strong opposition from other Democrats who charge that it demands almost nothing of the Palestinians, even though it is their intransigence and continued violence against Israel that has largely held up the peace process.
Earlier this week, President Joe Biden in his maiden address to the United Nations acknowledged that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was effectively on-hold, and that a two-state solution wouldn’t be reached anytime soon.
Biden’s assessment echoed that of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett last week, when he said of the Israel-Palestinian peace process, “We all understand that at the moment it’s not relevant.”