Jewish Journal

11 lawmakers warn against demolition of Palestinian villages

A general view shows a Palestinian flag and tents in Susiya village, south of the West Bank city of Hebron July 20, 2015. Sitting under a fig tree to escape the searing sun, Jihad Nuwaja looks out on the only land he knows - the dry expanse of the Hebron hills in the southern West Bank. Within days, his home is set to be demolished and he, his wife and 10 children expelled. Nuwaja's family is one of handful living in tents and prefabricated structures at Susiya, a Palestinian village spread across several rocky hillsides between a Jewish settlement to the south and a Jewish archaeological site to the north - land Israel has occupied since the 1967 Middle East war. REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) authored a letter signed by 11 House Democrats urging Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to pressure the Israeli government and prevent the demolition of Palestinian villages Susiya and Khan al-Ahmar. “We ask you that you work with your counterparts in the Israeli government to prevent the demolition of these villages, the expulsion of Palestinian families from their homes, and the expropriation of their lands,” the lawmakers said.

Located in the West Bank, the village of Susiya has attracted significant international attention. The Israeli government says that the homes in Susiya were built illegally, and the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the Defense Ministry has the right to demolish the structures.

Last week when asked the State Department’s view on the demolition orders for Susiya, a State Department official explained, “We are not going to comment on an Israeli Supreme Court decision.”

In a letter obtained by Jewish Insider, Charles Faulkner of the State Department’s Bureau of Legislative Affairs explained, “We are closely following developments in Susiya and Khan al-Ahmar… Consulate General officials continue to visit Susiya and Khan al-Ahmar to monitor the situation.” Faulkner added President Donald Trump is committed to achieving peace and “urged both sides to refrain from taking action which could undermine that goal.”

The Trump administration’s more muted response stands in contrast to the Obama administration. Past State Department spokesman John Kirby publicly called on Israel to “refrain” from carrying out the demolitions in 2015, which the Obama administration official labeled as “harmful and provocative.”

“It is yet another example of the double standard that anti-Israel politicians apply to the nation state of the Jewish people,” asserted Alan Dershowitz, former law professor at Harvard University. “When is the last time these members of Congress complained about a domestic issue involving another foreign ally? How would Congressmen feel if Israeli members of Knesset started writing letters complaining about how America is dealing with some of its issues?”

The letter was also signed by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Deputy Director of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Mark Pocan (D-WI), James McGovern (D-MA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Betty Mccollum (D-MN), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).

In September, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sponsored an event on Capitol Hill to highlight the condition of Susiya.

This article originally appeared on jewishinsider.com.