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UNITED STATES Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has defended her suggestion that military aid to Israel should be axed after the re-election of “Trump-like” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
She has faced criticism after explaining in an interview with the Yahoo News Skullduggery podcast on Sunday that Democrats had discussed the possibility of cutting military and economic aid worth $3 billion a year to Tel Aviv, warning of “an ascent of authoritarianism across the world.”
Ms Ocasio-Cortez was speaking after the Israeli elections saw Mr Netanyahu win a record fifth term as prime minister following a tight race with the Blue and White coalition headed by former army chief Benny Gantz.
During the campaign Mr Netanyahu promised to annex more land in the illegally occupied West Bank in a rallying appeal to his nationalist base.
The US representative for New York’s 14th district has long criticised Israeli aggression against Palestine.
During her election campaign last year she blasted the killing of 135 Palestinians in Land Day protests as “a massacre” and called on her peers to have “the moral courage to call it such.”
She said at the time: “No state or entity is absolved of mass shootings of protesters. There is no justification. Palestinian people deserve basic human dignity, as anyone else.”
Insisting that cutting US aid to Israel was on the table, she said: “I think these are part of conversations we are having in our caucus.
“I hope to play a facilitating role in this conversation and a supportive role in this conversation. But I also know that there have been people leading on this for a long time, like Congresswoman [Betty] McCollum.”
Ms Ocasio-Cortez said the threat of cutting aid to Tel Aviv could be a way for the US to oppose rampant Israeli human rights violations of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
She also supports a Bill proposed by Ms McCollum which would ban aid being used by Israel to detain children.
Latest figures show at least 250 Palestinian children are held in Israeli prisons, with 98 per cent subjected to physical and mental torture, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Association.
Defending her position, she said: “Simply put, I don’t believe in caging kids. Pretty straightforward value.
“I don’t care if it’s American kids, Mexican kids, or Palestinian kids. I vote against funding it on the US border, too. It would be inconsistent with my values to fund it anywhere.”
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