NY law eyes ending funding of illegal Israeli settlements in West Bank
Israeli occupation settlements set up on Palestinian land are deemed illegal by the majority of the world, even the United Nations.
The state assembly of New York is set to consider proposed legislation to prohibit registered charities from transferring tens of millions of dollars every year to fund illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The act was introduced by state assembly member, Zohran Mamdani, under the title “Not on our dime!: Ending New York funding of Israeli settler violence” with the aim of preventing the use of tax-deductible donations to forcibly expel Palestinians from their land alongside other violations widely regarded as war crimes under the Geneva conventions.
It is worth noting that the Israeli occupation settlements set up on Palestinian land are deemed illegal by the majority of the world, even the United Nations, though that only includes the occupied West Bank, not recognizing Palestine's sovereignty over the rest of the country except for the Gaza Strip.
Despite it all, the Israeli occupation continues its efforts to further Judaize occupied Al-Quds and destroy its Islamic and Christian identities and continue with its illegal settlement expansion.
“This legislation makes it clear that New York will no longer effectively subsidize war crimes and the flouting of international law,” Mamdani said, as quoted by The Guardian.
“What we have is a number of New York state-registered charities that are sending at least $60m a year to Israeli settlement organizations which then use that funding to continue the history of expulsion and dispossession of Palestinians in the occupied territories that has been going on for decades,” he added.
The legislation is supported by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, and Jewish Voice for Peace among others. Vince Warren, CCR’s Director, said, “Aiding and abetting war crimes is not charitable, period. This bill goes a long way toward ensuring that New York is not inadvertently subsidising war crimes, but rather creating paths for accountability.”
The Israeli daily Haaretz disclosed in 2015 that at least 50 organizations in the United States were involved in fundraising for Israeli settlements.
According to Haaretz, part of the funds also went "toward providing legal aid to Jews accused or convicted of terrorism, and supporting their families" through "Honenu", a "legal aid society."
“Among those who benefited from the group’s support in 2013 were the family of Ami Popper, who murdered seven Palestinian laborers in 1990, and members of the Bat Ayin Underground, which attempted to detonate a bomb at a girls’ school in East Jerusalem in 2002,” Haaretz reported.
The proposed law would empower New York's attorney general to sue organizations that finance illegal Israeli settlements. It would also allow Palestinians who have been affected by settlement organizations supported by New York-based charities to seek restitution in American courts.
“There’s a phrase that I grew up hearing: PEP, progressive except Palestine. You’d see how time and again how politicians who espoused universal beliefs would always seem to find an exception when it came to the question of Israel and Palestine. We see that sadly in terms of how our laws are applied in terms of how our policies are applied. What this legislation does is it reckons with reality,” Mamdani said.
As a result, Mamdani admits that passing the bill will be difficult at this moment. However, he stated that public opinion is changing in favor of the Palestinians.
“I think it will be a long fight. I do not have any illusions. But if you look at the attitudes of Americans towards Palestine and towards Israel, and specifically to the question of settlements, it is very clear that this is also a fight that is broadly popular,” he said.
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