In a letter to the Secretary of State, 15 House Democrats urged the administration to intervene against the expulsion of Palestinians from West Bank villages.

By Isaac Scher, Jewish Currents

On Tuesday, 15 House Democrats called on Secretary of State Antony Blinken to stop the Israeli government’s expulsion of Palestinians from the villages of Masafer Yatta in the occupied West Bank. In a letter obtained by Jewish Currents, they urged the administration to “immediately send the strongest diplomatic message possible not to expel the indigenous Palestinian residents,” demanding that the State Department “exert all available diplomatic pressure.”

Israel’s destruction of the villages violates international law, the letter said, citing protections against an occupying power forcibly removing an occupied people from their land or transferring its own civilians into occupied territory. “Forced displacement and transfer by Israel of Palestinians in Masafer Yatta would be a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” the lawmakers wrote, “and would amount to a war crime.”

View of a Jewish Settlement in the West Bank.

The letter—which was initiated by Rep. Cori Bush, a member of the progressive flank of the Democratic Party known as “the Squad”—follows a similar missive to Blinken spearheaded by the liberal Zionist organization J Street, which was signed by 81 members of Congress. That letter asks the Biden administration to “immediately engage with the Israeli government to prevent these evictions and further military training exercises in the area,” and notes that the expulsions are “inconsistent with international humanitarian law . . . and inconsistent with efforts to reach a two-state solution.” Unlike Bush’s letter, it does not mention Israeli war crimes, Palestinian indigeneity, or US laws restricting aid to foreign militaries committing human rights abuses.

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