Penning a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, 106 House Democrats press him to “immediately” reverse decision recognizing Jewish settlements in Judea & Samaria as legal.
By OMRI NAHMIAS
WASHINGTON – A large group of 106 House Democrats sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday urging him to reverse “immediately” his recent announcement regarding the legality of the settlements.
Led by Rep. Andy Levin of Michigan, the letter was signed by 12 committee chairs. The group includes veteran congress people such as Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California), along with other high-profile representatives, such as Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy and Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas. Members of the “squad,” Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, signed the letter as well.
“We write to express our strong disagreement [with the decision],” the lawmakers wrote in their letter. “This announcement… has discredited the United States as an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, severely damaged prospects for peace, and endangered the security of America, Israel, and the Palestinian people,” they added.
According to the Democratic lawmakers, settlement expansion “makes a contiguous Palestinian state inviable, jeopardizing Israel’s future as a secure, democratic homeland for the Jewish people.”
“The State Department’s unilateral reversal on the status of settlements, without any clear legal justification, therefore, has offered a tacit endorsement of settlements, their expansion and associated demolitions of Palestinian homes,” they continued. “In addition, one day after the Department’s decision, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved to advance a bill to annex the Jordan Valley. As annexation and the United States’ approval thereof would destroy prospects for a two-state solution and lead to a more entrenched and possibly deadlier conflict, this decision erodes the security of both Israel and the United States.”
They went on to criticize the decision sharply, arguing it disregards Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
“In ignoring international law, this administration has undermined America’s moral standing and sent a dangerous message to those who do not share our values: human rights and international law, which have governed the international order and protected US troops and civilians since 1949, no longer apply,” the letter reads. “If the US unilaterally abandons international and human rights law, we can only expect a more chaotic and brutal twenty-first century for Americans and our allies, including the Israeli people.”
The progressive Jewish group J Street released a statement saying it strongly supports the letter.
“The administration’s decision to effectively legitimize illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank is designed to obstruct the two-state solution and could pave the way for unilateral Israeli annexation,” said J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami. “It’s extremely important that leading members of Congress are making clear that this decision undermines human rights, jeopardizes both US and Israeli interests, and flouts international law.”
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