Peace Not Walls - July

 

Take action to voice your opposition to U.S. legitimization of Israeli settlements

Peace Not Walls 2

On June 16, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled a sign that reads “Trump Heights.” The sign sits at the site of an Israeli settlement in the Golan, which Israel occupied—along with the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the Sinai Peninsula—during the 1967 War. Israel claimed sovereignty over the Golan in 1981, in defiance of international law, and in March of this year, President Trump recognized Israel’s claim of annexation of that land.

Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan, and blockade of Gaza, remain firmly in place, despite UN resolutions calling on Israel to withdraw from territories it occupied in the 1967 War. Since that time, Israel has illegally built and expanded settlements in those areas in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupying force from transferring its own population into areas that it occupies. There are currently more than 650,000 Israelis living in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as about 26,000 settlers in the Golan.

The Trump administration, in addition to recognizing Israeli annexation of the Golan, has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv, and given no indication that it recognizes Palestinian claims to any part of the city or Palestinian hope that Jerusalem is also the capital of a future Palestinian state. The White House has also not pushed back against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s campaign promise in April to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, and the U.S. special envoy for the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, have both expressed their support of Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank, including settlements. Ambassador Friedman not only favors Israeli settlement construction and expansion; he has also led efforts to raise funds for the settlement of Beit El, a nationalist religious settlement near Ramallah. It remains legal for U.S. citizens to make tax-free contributions for the construction of illegal Israeli settlements.

Previous U.S. foreign policy actions on settlements—including the late President George H.W. Bush’s decision not to provide loan guarantees to Israel in opposition to Israel’s settlement project and President Obama’s decision not to block a December 2016 UN resolution demanding a halt to settlement construction—make the current U.S. administration’s disregard for international law especially troubling. The U.S. Senate has also made no effort to differentiate between Israel and Israeli-controlled areas, where the illegal settlements are located, in a bill adopted earlier this year, Senate Bill 1, the Combatting BDS Act of 2019. Several senators opposed the bill on the grounds that it violated U.S. citizens’ First Amendment rights.

In late June, Palestinian and U.S. Christians met and articulated “what would make peace.” Among the necessary steps is the rejection of unilateral U.S. measures, “which endanger the prospects of a comprehensive, negotiated peace settlement.” Those gathered also committed “to communicate regularly and persistently with elected officials to ensure that they know of our deep concerns with current US policy and approach, urging them to work in the interests of peace and justice, and not enact laws or policies that benefit one side at the expense of the other, or that are opposed to US and international laws.”

In these summer months, you can take that commitment seriously, voicing your opposition to the ways the U.S. legitimizes Israeli settlements, by writing or calling your elected representatives in Washington, D.C.; making appointments to visit their in-district offices while they are on recess from sessions in Washington, D.C.; and writing letters to the editor of your local newspaper, expressing your view that it is in the U.S.’s interest to support international law on the issue of settlements.

Recipients

  • Your Senators
  • Your Representative

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