The campaign of creeping annexation and demolitions in the West Bank thrives when it is allowed to take place in the shadows, with little public scrutiny. That’s why it’s so important that today, two prominent legislators spoke out and called attention to an ongoing crisis that exacerbates conflict, damages communities and jeopardizes the future of both Israelis and Palestinians.
As the threat to the village of Susya is more immediate than ever, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA) both made clear their strong concern and opposition to imminent demolitions there.
“Demolitions in villages like Susya are not helping Israel’s security – in fact they are a direct and grave threat to a viable two-state solution, and Israel’s safety.”
– Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky
On Thursday, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that the government could move without delay to demolish 7 structures in the village — structures that house 42 residents, half of them children. Many more could be added to that list in the next few months, depending on the decisions of the government and the court. But these lawmakers are not giving up.
Yesterday, Congresswoman Schakowsky registered her strong opposition to the demolitions with the Israeli Consulate in Chicago. In October, she visited Susya as part of the J Street Education Fund’s Congressional Delegation to Israel and the West Bank. In a statement released today, the Congresswoman noted that her trip to Susya made it “exceedingly clear to me that demolitions in villages like Susya are not helping Israel’s security – in fact they are a direct and grave threat to a viable two-state solution, and Israel’s safety.”
Senator Feinstein tweeted today that the Court’s decision is “heartbreaking” and stressed that she has “repeatedly called on Israel to stop demolishing Palestinian homes and communities.” In November, she and Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) led a letter in which ten US senators urged Prime Minister Netanyahu not to allow demolitions in the villages of Susya and Khan al-Amar.
I’ve repeatedly called on Israel to stop demolishing Palestinian homes and communities. Doing so jeopardizes the two-state solution and a peace agreement. pic.twitter.com/ciJLZh4I3Z
— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) February 2, 2018
They cautioned the prime minister that “[Y]our government’s efforts to forcibly evict entire Palestinian communities and expand settlements throughout the West Bank not only directly imperil a two-state solution, but we believe also endanger Israel’s future as a Jewish democracy. We urge you to change course so that you do not foreclose the possibility of establishing two states for two peoples.”
At a time when the Trump administration’s policies continues to empower creeping annexation in the West Bank, it is vital that pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy legislators continue to make their voices heard.