3rd Thursday Alert: Tell Congress to hold Israel accountable for its violations of human rights and international law
On November 28 the Israeli courts rejected an appeal by Palestinian residents of the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem against the demolition of their homes. The court’s refusal to act means 58 families are under immediate threat of forced displacement if the demolition of their homes proceeds. These families are not alone, at least 20,000 Palestinian owned structures are at risk of demolition in East Jerusalem. As these Palestinian homes are threatened, the construction of new homes for Jewish Israeli Settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is increasing.
Thanks to what has been reported as “heavy” US pressure, some of the planned Israeli settlement expansion to the east of Jerusalem was delayed recently. However, other building in other areas continues and in a controversial and provocative move, Israeli President Isaac Herzog visited Hebron, giving visible support to the settlers there. The visit was followed by an Israeli promise of additional funds for “municipal services” that will benefit the settlers in Hebron. Such actions belie the notion that Israeli commitment to settlement development and expansion may be constrained by the current government.
And during the recent olive harvest season, settler violence against Palestinian farmers and communities spiked to an “unprecedented” frequency and severity. In a recent report, B’Tselem asserted that such settler violence is “not a private initiative” but that it is an “unofficial branch of state violence,” and that “Israel maintain[s] plausible deniability and blame the violence on settlers rather than on the military.” Violence perpetrated against Palestinian children was especially prevalent in 2021, according to a recently-released report by Defense for Children International-Palestine.
In a further example of how Israel seeks to avoid accountability for state violence, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and B’Tselem issued a joint report early this month called “Unwilling and Unable.” The report analyzes Israel’s investigations into its response to the Great March of Return in Gaza (2018). By announcing that the Israeli Military Attorney General would conduct the inquiry into its own military’s actions, Israel effectively precluded and prevented the International Criminal Court from investigating, avoiding accountability.
Flaunting international law and conventions cannot be tolerated. The US, which sends $3.8 billion annually in military aid to Israel (that’s $10.4 million/day!), has much leverage to use to uphold principles and laws in an international system the US was instrumental in establishing, and to ensure Israel’s compliance with US law.
Tell your Congressional representatives to hold Israel accountable by withholding US military aid. As the US continues to impose financial and diplomatic sanctions on countries for their abuses of human rights and international law, the US must at least be consistent in holding countries accountable.
Feel free to use the following suggested text if helpful in communicating with your elected officials:
Dear Senator/Member of Congress,
As I witness the continuation of threats against Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, the perpetuation of settler violence against Palestinians, Israel’s persistence in settlement expansion, and its inadequate investigations into its military’s conduct in response to the Great March of Return, I write to urge you to use American leverage to hold Israel accountable to principles of human rights, international law, and US laws.
Tensions in the Shaikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem have again flared in the past few weeks. Settler squatters provoke the Palestinian families who have lived there for decades by their presence, and far-right Israelis have demonstrated in the streets exacerbating the insecurity and threatening the safety of the Palestinian residents. Threatened home demolitions in Palestinian areas of Jerusalem further enflame tensions.
Settler violence against Palestinian farmers during the olive harvest season this fall has spiked to an “unprecedented” frequency and severity and, tolerated by the Israeli Defense Forces, is an example of unofficial state violence, according to the respected Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem.
Israel’s avoidance of an objective investigation of its army’s conduct in response to the Great March of Return by the International Criminal Court has led to its avoidance of accountability for unlawful open-fire policy, according to B’Tselem and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
Flaunting international law and conventions cannot be tolerated. The US, which sends $3.8 billion annually in military aid to Israel (that’s $10.4 million/day!), has much leverage to use.
In this season of hope, I urge you to use that leverage and hold Israel accountable by withholding or conditioning aid to Israel until the State of Israel’s actions change. In doing so, you can uphold principles and laws in an international system the US was instrumental in establishing, and ensure Israel’s compliance with US law.