D012 Conditioning U.S. Military Assistance to Israel on Human Rights and a Negotiated Peace

The Episcopal Church has a long history of raising our voice on human rights issues to urge the U.S. government to take human rights into account in U.S. foreign policy. This resolution would extend our church’s human rights commitments by reaffirming our longstanding basic commitments and by specifying that military aid and related technologies should always be conditioned on adherence to human rights norms, including specifically in the Israel-Palestine conflict where U.S. laws on human rights conditioning have been subject to special treatment and ignored in practice.[i][ii]

Although the U.S. government has also undertaken certain commitments in this area, through signing on to international commitments such as the Helsinki Accords and through the “Leahy Laws” and “Leahy Amendments” that are currently contained in the (amended) Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and in Department of Defense appropriations law,[iii] it does not always follow these commitments. Sustained advocacy and campaigning by civil society, including faith communities, has always been important in holding our governments to their own standards. The South Africa Anti-Apartheid Movement is perhaps the best-known campaign, but there have been others, for example, for ending the wars in Central America in the 1980s and for human rights in Darfur. Human rights leaders across the world have called upon the U.S. government to review its human rights obligations under U.S. and international law in its provision of weapons to Israel in the current conflict.[iv]

This resolution would also extend our church’s support for sanctioning extremist organizations and individuals and would call for conditioning U.S. aid to any party based on demonstrated commitments to end the occupation and conflict. As of this writing, the United States has sanctioned four individuals from the extremist settler project in the West Bank who have been implicated in acts of terror against Palestinians. The United States could and should do more in terms of concrete actions to pressure the people and groups that are fueling the rising violence, including actual Israeli government ministers who are funding and arming extremists.

This resolution would call for the release of the remaining Israeli hostages who were kidnapped on October 7 and held in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners, including children, who are subject to extended “administrative detention,” i.e., held without charge for extended periods of time in violation of international human rights norms.

This resolution would call for conditioning aid based on measurable steps toward a negotiated peace agreement, which is the only way to ensure lasting security for the peoples of the land. Indeed, the Episcopal Church has already stated our commitment to a negotiated peace in past General Conventions – for example, in 2018, the General Convention called for “full human and civil rights with democratic rule of one person, one vote,” whether that be formed via two states, one binational state, or some kind of confederation, recognizing that “no people’s right to self-determination should be exercised at the expense of another people’s right to self-determination, and that any negotiated solution be founded upon mutual recognition of the humanity and past and present sufferings of all parties and provide guarantees for the human and civil rights of ethnic and religious minorities within any state, federation, or national boundaries that may be created.[v]

Although General Convention has said it before, it is not redundant—indeed it is urgent—given the devastation on October 7 and in all the months since, to lift our voices to push United States government to support in word and deed a negotiated peace that provides for self-determination and rights for all. The United States government is complicit in the terrible violence of this year insofar as it has been complacent in providing significant aid to Israel while not pushing for a sustainable peace for many years and has now provided the weaponry and the diplomatic cover for the terrible war that has been waged in Gaza, with tens of thousands of innocent people killed, maimed, and orphaned, with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of families wiped out entirely and cities and cultural equities completely leveled; now the United States needs to be accountable to the world in supporting a lasting peace agreement and in helping to rebuild devastated cities and lives.

We would not expect that the Episcopal Church alone can move U.S. policy on these issues, but we are able to join forces with other groups, including our ecumenical Christian partners and our Jewish, Muslim and other interfaith partners for peace, to hold our government to a higher standard in upholding human rights and democratic norms in all countries, including longstanding U.S. allies such as the State of Israel.


[i] “‘Different rules’: special policies keep US supplying weapons to Israel despite alleged abuses,” by Stephanie Kirchgaessner, in The Guardian, January 18, 2024. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/jan/18/us-supply-weapons-israel-alleged-abuses-human-rights?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

[ii] “The US may be flouting its own laws by sending unrestricted aid to Israel,” by Nicole Narea, in Vox, December 23, 2023. https://www.vox.com/world-politics/24011316/us-aid-israel-biden-human-rights-leahy-law

[iii] “Leahy Law” Human Rights Provisions and Security Assistance: Issue Overview,” by Nina M. Serafino, June S. Beittel, Lauren Ploch Blanchard, and Liana Rosen, by the Congressional Research Service, January 29, 2014. https://sgp.fas.org/crs/row/R43361.pdf

[iv] “The Elders call for urgent review of foreign military assistance to Israel over Gaza atrocities,” Statement from The Elders, December 4, 2023. https://theelders.org/news/elders-call-urgent-review-foreign-military-assistance-israel-over-gaza-atrocities.

[v] General Convention resolution 2018-D022, “Commit to a Negotiated Solution to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” https://episcopalarchives.org/cgi-bin/acts/acts_search.pl.


Support Documents:

2022-D024-Condicionar la ayuda militar de EE. UU. a los Derechos Humanos

2022-D024-Conditioning U.S. Military Assistance on Human Rights


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