J Street Policy Center: Biden Administration Should Act to Prevent Mass Eviction from Masafer Yatta

January 12, 2023

WASHINGTON, DC – The J Street Policy Center today issued an Action Memo calling on the Biden Administration to urgently press the Israeli government against carrying out a mass eviction of Palestinian communities in the Masafer Yatta area of the occupied West Bank.

While the communities of Masafer Yatta have long been under threat, the fact that the new right-wing Netanyahu government is now considering a specific mass eviction and demolition plan prepared by the Israeli army makes this a critical moment for the US government to speak out.

“If carried out, this mass displacement would violate Palestinian rights and international law and further destabilize an already incendiary situation in the West Bank,” said Dylan Williams, J Street’s Senior Vice President for Policy and Strategy. “As a major step towards the annexation of the occupied territory, it would be harmful to Israel’s own interests and future, as well as the interests and values of the United States.”

The memo urges the Biden administration to not only reiterate US opposition to the Israeli government’s plan, but also make clear that proceeding with the mass eviction would have specific consequences, including that:

  • The United States will not block accurate criticism of the eviction that comports with US policy in international fora, including in the United Nations Security Council.
  • The United States will support European donor countries’ claims for compensation from Israel for its demolition of foreign aid-funded structures and equipment in Masafer Yatta.
  • Use of US-origin military equipment in connection with the eviction would merit an investigation into whether such use constituted a violation of US arms export control law.

In May 2022, ahead of President Biden’s visit to Israel, 83 Members of the House and Senate led by Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Melanie Stansbury signed a letter urging the administration to strongly oppose potential evictions in Masafer Yatta. “As supporters of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, we believe such evictions undermine our shared democratic values, imperil Israel’s security, and disregard Palestinian human and civil rights,” the lawmakers wrote.

J Street Policy Center experts are available for interview on this important topic, and the broader question of how the US should respond to the new Israeli government’s actions.

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