A dozen members of the US Congress have called on the administration of President Joe Biden to condemn Israel’s land expropriation and home demolition policies in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The legislators, led by Rashida Tlaib and Mark Pocan, urged the administration to attach meticulous attention to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict in terms of international law and human rights and to reverse decisions taken by former US President Donald Trump on the matter.
“We remain concerned about Israel’s policy of demolishing Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank”, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, they said in a letter addressed to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The lawmakers also demanded an investigation into the use of US equipment in the demolitions and whether such conduct violates American law.
“We believe the State Department should condemn Israel’s home demolitions in unequivocal terms and take effective and timely diplomatic action to end this policy,” the letter read.
The lawmakers said Israel’s ongoing colonization of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, alongside its demolition of Palestinian homes, is a form of de facto annexation that needs to be unequivocally opposed by the United States.
They asked the US administration to denounce Israel’s settlement expansion, stressing that “settler colonialism in any form – including Israel’s settlements in East Jerusalem al-Quds and the West Bank – is illegal under international law and will not be tolerated.”
The US lawmakers also called on the Biden administration “to officially rescind the Trump administration’s so-called Peace to Prosperity plan, which would enable Israel to unilaterally annex 30 percent of the West Bank outside the framework of negotiations.”
Moreover, the State Department should publicaly call on Israel to fulfill its legal obligations to provide COVID-19 vaccines to all Palestinians living under the Israeli military occupation, they added.
On March 9, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called on the Biden administration to make good on its opposition to Israel’s settlement expansion across the occupied West Bank and take concrete measures to tackle it.
Shtayyeh said the uptick in Israeli settlement expansion amid the global coronavirus pandemic undermines international efforts to keep alive the prospect for the establishment of an independent State of Palestine.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds. All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.
According to human rights groups, acts of violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property are a daily occurrence throughout the occupied West Bank.