On Monday, the Democratic National Committee’s platform committee voted down an amendment that would have added the word “occupation” to its platform and conditioned aid to Israel if the country moved forward with its proposed annexation of the West Bank.
The motion was proposed by Bernie Sanders delegate Clem Balanoff, the executive director of Our Revolution’s Illinois chapter. The proposed amendment would have asserted that Palestinians have the right to live “without occupation” and added a line declaring that United States aid should not be used “to facilitate annexation or violate Palestinian rights.”
“At a time when hundreds of thousands of Americans have been marching in our streets – and many of you on this call – for equality and civil rights, it is unconscionable for the Democratic Party not to speak truthfully to the Palestinians efforts to secure those same rights,” Balanoff told the committee.
Former US ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, and former undersecretary of state for political affairs, Wendy Sherman, both spoke out against the amendment during the meeting. Shapiro said that Demcrats “ought to speak with one voice about our support for our ally Israel, and our support of the right of Palestinians to live in a state of their own..we should not let disagreements about words or specific policies threaten our party’s unity.”
Sherman took aim at the concept of conditioning aid specifically, explaining that unfettered military aid to Israel is “a mutually beneficial investment, one that protects Israel against very real threats and helps promote security and stability in a region where we know all too well the cost of insecurity and instability.”
The amendment was voted down 34-117, with five abstentions.
In his remarks before the vote, Balanoff cited a 2019 Center for American Progress poll which found that 56% of American voters believe the U.S. should stop giving Israel unconditional aid if the country continues to expand settlements or annexes portions of the West Bank. That same study found that 71% of Democrats support the policy of conditioning aid.
“The DNC platform committee just voted to ignore Israel’s violent, illegal military occupation and to continue sending $3.8 billion in U.S. tax dollars every year to fund Israel’s apartheid rule over Palestinians. But even if the Democratic establishment isn’t ready to embrace Palestinian rights, the intergenerational, multiracial movement of Palestinians, Jews, and allies within the Democratic base will continue to grow and keep pushing for Palestinian rights, dignity and freedom,” said Beth Miller, JVP Action’s Senior Government Affairs Manager, in a statement.
Last month, a number of progressive lawmakers sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, threatening to cut military aid to Israel if it moves forward with annexation. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says he opposes annexation, but has referred to the conditioning of aid as “absolutely outrageous” and a “gigantic mistake.”
Balanoff’s motion wasn’t the only progressive proposal to rejected by the committee on Monday. Amendments endorsing Medicare for All and the legalization of marijuana were also voted down.