Congress members issue letter to prevent planned displacement of Palestinians
In a letter released Friday, members of Congress have come out in strong condemnation of the Israeli destruction of Palestinian homes and displacement of residents near Jerusalem.
Signed by 50 representatives, the letter condemns the displacement of 38 families – or around 300 people – in the Palestinian village of al-Walaja near Jerusalem.
"As members of Congress who support a strong US-Israel relationship and a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we write to urge you to engage with the Israeli government to prevent the displacement of 38 families (approximately 300 people) and the demolition of their homes in the Palestinian village of al-Walaja in East Jerusalem," reads the letter, addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
"The destruction and displacement of this community would run counter to the values shared by the US and Israel, while further undermining long-term Israeli security, Palestinian dignity, and prospects for peace."
The letter, led by Representatives Jan Schakowsky, David Price, Jamie Raskin, John Yarmuth and Mark Pocan, appears to build on a recent trend of progressive politicians increasingly supporting Palestinian rights. Critics, however, say the letter does not go far enough in criticising Israel's policies.
"It's great that members of Congress are drawing attention to Israel's impending destruction of 38 houses in the Palestinian village of Al-Walaja, a move which would drive more than 300 people from their homes," Josh Josh Ruebner, director of government relations at the Institute for Middle East Understanding, told The New Arab.
"However, appealing to Israel's 'values', as this letter does, is misguided," he said. "Israel has been colonising Palestinian land and forcibly removing Palestinians from their homes for nearly 75 years. Israel's dispossession of Palestinians is the guiding principle of its settler-colonialism and apartheid."
In addition to these letters, he suggests a much higher level of accountability to give Israel a stronger incentive to stop the destruction of homes and displacement of residents.
"Al-Walaja, like all Palestinian land in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is under Israel's military occupation. Destroying homes and forcibly removing their inhabitants, as in this case, are war crimes," he said.
"Congress and the Biden administration must act to sanction Israel for its war crimes as it is doing for Russia's war crimes in Ukraine."