WASHINGTON — J Street welcomed an important new letter, signed by 76 Members of Congress, which calls on Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu to bring a halt to the ongoing demolition and evictions of Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
Led by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and John Yarmuth (D-KY), the letter notes that the destruction and displacement of these communities pose a serious threat to the human rights of Palestinians, to the prospects for a two-state solution and to Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state. This letter follows a similar letter sent to the prime minister by ten senators last November.
“This is the latest sign that US lawmakers are increasingly concerned by the alarming consequences of the Israeli government’s policies in the West Bank,” said Dylan Williams, J Street’s Vice President of Government Affairs. “Demolitions, evictions and settlement expansion clearly imperil the prospects for a peaceful two-state solution.”
In the letter, the members write: “The forcible eviction of Palestinian communities and the expansion of settlements in areas of the West Bank, which would become part of a future Palestinian state, abandon our two countries’ shared values of justice and respect for human rights.”
The letter cites over 300 rabbis, organized by J Street and other American Jewish groups, who wrote to Netanyahu in January opposing demolitions. J Street and J Street U have been calling attention to this issue with the student-led, “Stop Demolitions, Build Peace” campaign, launched in the fall of 2017. On campuses across the country, the campaign partners with Palestinian communities under threat to raise awareness about the impact of demolitions. It calls on elected officials and Jewish communal leaders to speak out in defense of Palestinian communities and the two-state solution.
In April, over 100 J Street U student leaders delivered their own letter to the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC calling on the Netanyahu government to end demolitions and permit Palestinian construction and development in these areas.