J Street welcomes a groundbreaking Congressional letter urging the Trump administration to strongly oppose Israeli destruction and displacement of Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank. Writing to Secretary Pompeo, the more than 60 representatives advise the State Department to examine Israeli compliance with the requirements applied by the Arms Export Control Act in order to make certain US supplied equipment is not used to destroy Palestinian homes. Expressing serious concern, the signers reassert that the United States “should work to prevent unlawful home demolitions and the forcible transfer of civilians everywhere in the world and prevent the use of U.S.-origin equipment in this destructive process.”
Led by Reps. Ro Kahnna (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and Steve Cohen (D-TN), the letter makes clear their support for Israel. At the same time, however, it maintains a critical component as the signers intend to hold governments’ responsible for their violations of agreed upon policy. “The faithful implementation of the AECA is one important oversight tool for ensuring that the U.S.-origin defense articles and other items recipient countries purchase with foreign military financing are not used for such purposes outside of the scope of ‘legitimate self-defense.’” The signers seek to push the administration on the issue, “What steps has the United States taken, if any, to communicate concerns about the legal, political, and human implications of Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes in the neighborhood of Wadi al-Hummus and other communities throughout the West Bank?”
This letter comes at a pressing moment in time. With the White House signaling support for Netanyahu’s dangerous map drawing proposition, the letter sends a powerful message to the Trump administration that American Jews will not stand for occupation of Palestinian lands and demolition of Palestinian of homes. Additionally, the letter’s supporters understand the permanent consequence to peace resulting from strictly unilateral actions. Furthermore, it demonstrates the changing appetite of American Jews to criticize both the Israeli government and American foreign policy in regard to Israel. Guided by a vision of a diplomatically negotiated two-state solution, American Jews understand that Israeli encroachment in Palestine take both sides further from peace.