WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) today asked a federal court to block pending foreign aid payments to Israel while a case examining its legality is litigated.
The motion for a preliminary injunction (PDF) seeks to immediately block $3.1 billion in foreign aid plus various other supplemental appropriations destined for Israel from leaving the U.S. Treasury Department.
According to the lawsuit, filed in August and amended in November, 2016 (PDF), U.S. aid to Israel is illegal because it violates longstanding amendments to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. The Symington & Glenn amendments ban or subject to mandatory waivers U.S. foreign aid to countries with nuclear weapons programs that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
On September 14, the Obama administration committed to providing $3.8 billion per year to Israel over ten years. This secret “memorandum of understanding” replaces an expiring MOU signed by the Bush administration.
The lawsuit also demands that a gag order passed by the Obama administration in 2012 prohibiting federal employees and contractors from discussing or releasing government information about Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program be overturned.
U.S. government officials, most recently U.S. State Department Spokesperson John Kirby, struggle to comply with the gag order whenever reporters ask about Israel’s nuclear weapons. The plaintiff has asked to present various videos, including Kirby’s response to a reporter on September 19, in court as evidence.
The decision to enjoin is up to DC District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is handling a number of related plaintiff cases. IRmep won release of a Department of Defense report detailing Israel’s nuclear weapons infrastructure and quest for the hydrogen bomb in a 2014 lawsuit. In a separate lawsuit, IRmep’s plaintiff won release of files indicating that the CIA withheld information from an FBI investigation into the unlawful diversion of U.S. weapons-grade uranium to Israel.
The lawsuit aims to “claw back” $234 billion in foreign aid unlawfully delivered to Israel since the laws went into effect. A public opinion poll cited in the lawsuit indicates most Americans would rather spend such funds on caring for veterans, education or paying down the national debt. An IRmep economic analysis reveals that Israel foreign aid generates far fewer U.S. jobs (7,000) than would spending on U.S. infrastructure (30,000).