News Release

Could Congress Cut off Funding to Israel by Acknowledging its Nuclear Weapons?


Many media outlets are reporting that members of “the Squad” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, as well as other members of Congress including Pramila Jayapal, are trying to “block a $735 million arms sale to Israel.”

But Grant Smith, author of Big Israel: How Israel’s Lobby Moves America, states that members of Congress who have been critical of Israel “won’t use the tools available to them.”

Specifically, he states “there are legal avenues to challenge the entire $3.8 billion of U.S. taxpayer funds that Israel gets every year.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu cited Smith’s work recently in a piece published by The Guardian: “Joe Biden should end the U.S. pretence over Israel’s ‘secret’ nuclear weapons.” Tutu challenged Biden to break with past U.S. administrations and acknowledge Israel’s undeclared nuclear weapons arsenal. Wrote Tutu, who chaired the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission: “There are few truths more critical to face than a nuclear weapons arsenal in the hands of an apartheid government.”

Grant notes: “there are laws already on the books that call for a cutoff of aid to nuclear proliferators.”

Smith is director of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy. Last year he wrote letters to several members of Congress who have voiced criticism of Israel, noting: “I believe your coalition has far more influence on the matter of foreign aid than it may realize. In 2016 and 2017 we sued the administration(s) over violations of the Arms Export Control Act, but did not prevail for lack of standing. Your coalition does not have such issues.”

Grant explained: “The Symington & Glenn provisions of the Arms Export Control Act (22 USC §2799aa-1: Nuclear reprocessing transfers, illegal exports for nuclear explosive devices, transfers of nuclear explosive devices, and nuclear detonations) forbid U.S. foreign aid to countries with nuclear weapons programs that are not signatories to the Treaty on the Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, absent required special procedures.”

Smith said today: “But no member of Congress has taken up this issue — or even mentioned Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal.”

Grant also wrote the piece “Challenging the secret ‘Israel Nuclear Weapons Gag Order’ WNP-136” about a government order that “forbids all U.S. government agency employees and contractors from discussing Israel’s nuclear weapons program.”

Grant said today: “It seems as though even these members of Congress, as well as the rest of the U.S. government, are abiding by this secret gag order when they could take action which would challenge the administration’s refusal to acknowledge Israel’s nuclear weapons and possibly stop $3.8 billion in taxpayer money from going to Israel.

“Eleanor Holmes Norton confirmed that there have never been proper waivers filed by POTUS either. (See page 39 of this legal filing PDF.)”

Grant wrote to the members of Congress last year: “If you really want to leverage U.S. foreign aid to Israel, you may easily do so by raising the issue of proper waivers and whether Congress is in compliance with the Arms Export Control Act when delivering aid to Israel.”