Tell Leaders in Congress that Humanitarian Aid must not be used a Political Tool: Amend ATCA in SB 2132

People’s lives should never be a bargaining chip.

I write to implore you ensure a resumption of vital U.S. humanitarian assistance to Palestine by amending the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) in SB 2132 “The Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019.”

Without regard for one's views on foreign policy or the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, ATCA should be amended for its implications on human rights and right to self-determination, values that we as Americans hold dearly.

ATCA intended to assist the families of terrorist attack victims collect damages from foreign governments, but the strings it attaches to U.S. humanitarian aid make it impossible for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to accept any aid. This not only includes economic assistance but also funding for programs that combat drug trafficking, weapons proliferation, and international terrorism. ATCA further undermines an already dire economic situation and prevents relief organizations from providing much needed assistance.

ATCA at its core a clear threat to the Palestinians: either downgrade your status at the UN or become bankrupt. The consequences of such a bill are extremely dire as such legislation, if passed, will impede the ability of the already crippled Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and PA- the only representative of the Palestinian--to engage diplomatic and legal channels to support Palestinian national aspiration of self-determination. The bill goes well beyond an attempt to obtain compensation for victims’ families. If the bill is successful, the US would revert to treating the PLO as a mere terrorist organization without national representative character, ultimately destroying the bipartisan goal of a two state solution- regarding Israel and Palestine.

Moreover, leaving the PLO and PA with even fewer resources to operate ultimately puts the lives of the most vulnerable Palestinians at risk, leaving less incentive to continue security cooperation with Israel, ultimately undermining security in the region.

Next, ATCA seeks to create an Israeli exception by allowing American victims of Palestinian attacks to file lawsuits against the PA and PLO in US courts for compensation, if the PA accepts even one penny of American aid. It does not do the same for American victims of Israeli attacks, most notably, Tristan Anderson who was shot during peaceful protest, breaking his skull and Rachel Corrie who was bulldozed to death by Israeli’s as she too engaged in peaceful protest.

I urge you to analyze this bill and foresee the disastrous impact it will have on the future of US-Palestinian bilateral relations and the possibility of finding a diplomatic resolution to the Palestine-Israel conflict. The Palestinian quest for self-determination and accountability for victims of war crimes should not be undermined to score short-term domestic political points that will have far-reaching implications for Mideast peace.

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