A group of House Democrats sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to urge the Biden administration to act on the forced displacement of Palestinian families by Israeli forces, which has triggered days of ensuing violence. Texas Reps. Veronica Escobar and Eddie Bernice Johnson were among the twenty-five signatories.
“We call upon the Department of State to exert diplomatic pressure to prevent these acts from taking place,” reads the letter to Blinken from a group of 25 House Democrats led by Reps. Mark Pocan (WI) and Marie Newman (IL). “East Jerusalem is part of the West Bank, and, under international law, Israel is in military occupation of this territory.”
The eruption of violence in Israel and occupied Palestine is considered the worst in years. The Palestinian Health Ministry says that at least 83 people have been killed. Tor Wennesland, the United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, tweeted that the situation could be “escalating towards a full scale war.”
In a readout of a call between President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House did not mention the forced removal of Palestinians from their homes, but did express “unwavering support for Israel’s security and for Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself and its people, while protecting civilians.”
In the letter, the Democrats detailed the longstanding American opposition to Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and urged the Biden administration to “immediately send the strongest diplomatic message to Israel to desist from its plans.” The lawmakers also call for an expeditious review of previous congressional requests for the State Department to investigate whether Israeli home demolitions using U.S. weapons violate the Arms Export Control Act.