Days of Palestine – NewYork
Eighty-three congressional Democrats have sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling on the Biden administration to stop Israeli occupation from displacing Palestinians from the Masafer Yatta villages of the West Bank.
“Evicting Palestinian people from their homes is inconsistent with international humanitarian law, according to Articles 49 and 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and inconsistent with efforts to reach a two-state solution,” reads the letter.
“We respectfully request that you immediately engage with the Israeli government to prevent these evictions and further military training exercises in the area. We further ask that you encourage the Israeli government to approve master plans for the villages in Masafer Yatta so that these Palestinian communities may build and maintain homes, schools, and infrastructure, and sustain their agricultural and pastoral lands.”
“These evictions undermine our shared democratic values, disregard Palestinian human and civil rights, imperil Israel’s security and prospects for peace,” tweeted Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-NM), who co-led the letter with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), “As supporters of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship we ask the Administration to urgently engage.”
Today, I along with @SenJeffMerkley, led 81 Members of Congress in urging Secretary Blinken to engage with the Israeli government to prevent further evictions in Masafer Yatta in the West Bank. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/qqKYGjwlva
— Rep. Melanie Stansbury (@Rep_Stansbury) May 26, 2022
House signatories include Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN) Jim McGovern (D-MA), Marie Newman (D-IL), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA). Senate signatories include Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Roughly 1,000 Palestinians are set to be forcibly displaced from Masafer Yatta in the southern West bank where the land is scheduled to be repurposed by Israel for military use.
The fate of the villages has been wrapped up in a legal battle for over twenty years, but earlier this month Israel’s high court ruled that people living in the area are not permanent residents.
The government based its argument on a book that the Israeli anthropologist Yaakov Havakook wrote about the area, but Havakook has told +972 Magazine that his work is being misinterpreted.
He tried to submit an opinion against the expulsions twenty years ago, but he worked for the Defense Ministry at the time and they blocked him from doing so.
The Israeli occupation claims that there were no permanent Palestinian residents in the area Israel declared a firing zone in the 1980s, despite the fact that there are numerous Palestinian testimonies that predate Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank.