Washington (QNN)- US Democratic legislators have called on the Treasury Department to stop allowing organisations that fund illegal Israeli settlements to receive tax-exempt status in the United States.
Representatives Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush, Andre Carson, Mark Pocan, Betty McCollum and Ayanna Pressley, sent a letter on Thursday to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, urging the department to ensure that US-based entities which may be in violation of international law were no longer eligible for tax-exempt status.
“We write to express our extreme concern that US charities are funding and providing direct support to Israeli organizations that are working to expand and perpetuate Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise in violation of international law, including supporting the dispossession and forced displacement of Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem neighborhoods,” the letter reads.
It continues, “We are concerned that these policies violate US obligations under international law, as well as federal tax law.”
Israel’s settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territories is illegal under international law, particularly international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, and contravenes Security Council resolutions.
There are nearly 700,000 Israeli settlers living in 256 illegal settlements and outposts scattered across the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
“Granting and sustaining [tax exempt] status recognizes and supports this unlawful conduct that is contrary to existing US obligations under international law and established US public policy,” the Democrats wrote in the letter.
In the letter, Democrats highlighted one group in particular that has funded initiatives behind these land grabs that has also benefited from US tax exemptions which is the New York-based Central Fund of Israel (CFI).
“Recent reporting shows that CFI provided funding for nearly the entire budget of the Israel Land Fund (ILF), an organization that is a driving force behind the forced evicti0ns of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood,” the lawmakers wrote, noting that CFI had supplied at least $75m to grantees during the past six years.
“Its grantees are notable for their essential role in supporting and enabling the illegal Israeli settlement enterprise, including international crimes such as forcible transfer, the unlawful appropriation and destruction of property, and Israel’s discriminatory military, housing, land, and property legal regimes among other violations,” they wrote.
Other recipients of funds from US tax-exempted charities include Qomemiyut, which has advocated for the destruction of Gaza, and the Hebron Fund, which is dedicated to supporting Israeli forces and settlers in the West Bank city and “keeping Hebron in Jewish Hands”.
their letter, lawmakers argue that such moves, which directly challenge the requirements of international law, should be enough to strip an organisation of its status as a charity.
“Charitable purposes, by definition, cannot be unlawful or aid and abet breaches of international law or internationally recognized human rights, and US-based entities must be prohibited from using federal tax law to help perpetrate violations against Palestinians in direct contravention of both international law and the basic principles behind US charitable law,” lawmakers told the Treasury Department in Thursday’s letter.
The Democrats expressed a serious concern that “conferring the benefit of [tax exempt] status to these entities is in violation of the United States government’s international law obligations to not explicitly or implicitly recognize violations of international humanitarian law or peremptory norms.”
The Democrats gave the Treasury Department a 22 August deadline to answer a series of questions on the topic, including whether the department planned on examining the issue further and “If not, please provide an explanation detailing why this clear violation of US law does not merit examination by your Department,” they said.
Did you know organizations funding illegal Israeli settlements currently get tax exempt status, in clear violation of international law AND US federal tax law? Treasury Dept. @SecYellen must act to enforce US law and end these organizations 501(c)(3) status. pic.twitter.com/WVfv5bx2mE
— Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (@RepRashida) July 22, 2021
The Democrats also asked to issue a clear statement of its policy regarding the tax exemption statuses of groups operating in occupied territory, among other requests.