Democratic lawmakers slam Israel
June 10, 2022
Eighty-one Democrats from both the House and Senate sent a strongly worded letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday, urging him to pressure the Israeli government into stopping potential evictions of Arabs from an IDF firing zone.
“We are deeply concerned that this relocation of Palestinian families from homes they have lived in for generations could spark violence, is in direct violation of international humanitarian law, and could further undermine efforts to reach a two-state solution,” wrote the Democratic lawmakers, headed by Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. Melanie Stansbury.
“Such evictions undermine our shared democratic values, imperil Israel’s security, and disregard Palestinian human and civil rights,” the letter continued.
“With President [Joe] Biden visiting Israel in late June, it is critical that the Administration respond quickly to ensure that this momentous trip can deliver concrete steps toward peace.”
A senior Biden administration official, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, also spoke out about the slated evictions.
“It is important to refrain from unilateral actions that exacerbate tensions and jeopardize a negotiated two-state solution,” said Greenfield-Thomas while speaking to the U.N. Security Council last Thursday.
“This includes the situation in Masafer Yatta and other evictions, which we continue to monitor closely and voice our concerns about.”
Israel’s Supreme Court recently decided in favor of the Israeli government after a court battle stretching more than two decades, ruling that the authorities have the right to evict some 1,300 Bedouin Arabs living in tents and temporary homes from a closed IDF firing zone in the South Hebron Hills.
The court accepted the Israeli government’s position that the residents had never maintained a continuous presence in the area, which would have entitled them to reside there permanently – rather, they periodically spent time there during seasonal migration, then moved on to other areas.
The nomadic Bedouin failed to convince the court that they lived permanently in the area prior to it being declared a closed military zone in the 1980s.