Ma'an News Agency
US lawmaker: Cut aid to Israel over Gaza blockade
Published (updated) 30/12/2009 09:49
A member of the US House of Representatives says he will push for a cut in aid to Israel if the blockade of the Gaza Strip is not lifted.
Brain Baird, a Democrat representing the Third District of the state of Washington, told Al-Jazeera television that the US should impose a financial penalty on Israel if the suffering of Gaza residents is not eased.
"There will be a cost in dollars, in aid, in support, if some fundamental changes don't happen," he said.
Baird visited Gaza in February along with fellow congressman Kieth Ellison in the aftermath of Israel's three week offensive on the territory.
As a part of a blockade that began in June 2007, Israel bans all construction materials from Gaza, preventing reconstruction from the destruction wrought during the war.
According to the Israeli organization Gisha, The Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, some 3,500 homes were completely destroyed during the war, while another 2,800 sustained heavy damage.
Donor states pledged some four billion US dollars to rebuild Gaza at a conference in March in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm Ash-Sheikh. Because of the blockade, little of the pledged aid has actually reached its intended recipients.
Baird represents the hometown of Rachel Corrie, the young American activist who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003. He and Ellison are somewhat exceptional in their support for Gaza in the US congress, which is heavily influenced by pro-Israeli lobby groups like AIPAC.