Tuesday, January 25 2022

A group of 73 Democratic lawmakers urged US President Joe Biden to reverse the Trump administration’s policies on settlements in Judea and Samaria, once again designating them as illegal under international law.

the letter was written by Reps Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) On June 23, asked Biden to clarify that the United States is considering settlements in the West Bank to be inconsistent with international law by “republishing the relevant guidelines from the State Department and US Customs to this effect.”

In 2019, the Trump administration overturned the 1978 State Department’s legal opinion that Jewish communities in the West Bank were incompatible with international law.

Arguing that international law would not provide a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would not take a stand on the legality of the settlements.

This, according to the Democrats’ letter, was part of “the previous administration’s abandonment of long-standing US bipartisan politics.”

The letter noted and thanked the Biden administration for restarting aid to the Palestinian Authority and urged the administration to quickly reopen a separate US consulate in Jerusalem to handle Palestinian affairs, which had been merged with the US embassy. by the Trump administration.

He also calls for US documents and communications to once again refer to the West Bank and Gaza Strip as “occupied,” oppose the expulsion of Palestinians while publicly condemning specific actions on both sides. of the conflict that the United States sees as undermining the prospects for peace and formally withdrawing the Trump administration’s peace plan which it says “paved the way for the unilateral annexation of Palestinian territory.”

“While there are additional steps that both parties to the conflict can and must take to preserve the possibility of one day reaching a two-state solution, we believe that the first step for the United States must be to restore d ‘urgent US political positions conducive to the prospects for peace,’ the letter said.

Among the signatories to the letter were seven committee chairs and Jewish members of Congress.

“Palestinians must take responsibility for meeting their commitments”

Left-wing pro-Israel organization J Street praised the letter, tweeting it on the organization’s Twitter account and posting a declaration.

“This letter from a significant section of the Democratic caucus, signed by a number of House chairpersons and committee leaders, sends a critical message to the Biden administration that it can and must do much more to help mend damage caused by former President Trump and to stop the continued deterioration of the Israeli-Palestinian situation, ”Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, said in a press release. “The Trump administration’s strong adherence to the settlements movement and the Israeli right has seriously damaged American credibility, empowered extremists and jeopardized the future of both peoples. It is therefore incumbent on the Biden administration to do everything in its power to rebuild productive ties with the Palestinian leadership and to make it clear that the United States will not support the illegal settlement expansion, annexation of facto and displacement.

“The White House has already taken several very welcome steps in this direction – we hope more will follow.”

AIPAC, on the other hand, did not see the letter as a productive step.

“We did not support the letter,” AIPAC spokesman Marshall Wittman said in an email. “In order to make positive progress for peace, the Palestinians must take responsibility for honoring their commitments and return to direct dialogue with Israel. This letter failed to bring out this essential point.

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