WASHINGTON, Wednesday, June 1, 2022 (WAFA) – 15 US congress members Tuesday sent a letter to the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and called on him to stop the Israeli government’s expulsion of Palestinian people from the villages of Masafer Yatta in the occupied West Bank.
The letter, which was initiated by Congresswoman Cori Bush, called on the Biden Administration to ‘immediately send the strongest diplomatic message possible to Israel not to expel the indigenous Palestinian residents of villages of Masafer Yatta’
Bush was joined in the letter by a number of progressive Democrats including Andre Carson, Pramila Jayapal, Betty McCollum, Marie Newman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Mark Pocan, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib, who is of Palestinian origin.
"Forced displacement and transfer by Israel of Palestinians in Masafer Yatta would be a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and would amount to a war crime," the congress members wrote in the letter.
"If Israel proceeds with its plans to forcibly displace the indigenous Palestinian residents," the lawmakers wrote, "the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Israel should immediately, pursuant to the oversight and accountability required by the Leahy Law and the Arms Export and Controls Act, send observers to document the mass transfer, including details of the military units involved in these operations and the use of any U.S. weapons."
The Leahy Law is a piece of legislation that prohibits US assistance to foreign militaries suspected of committing "gross violations of human rights".
The law enables the administration to force oversight of and also restrict Israel's expulsion of Palestinians, according to the lawmakers.
In addition to the US lawmakers, the letter was supported by dozens of civil society groups including Jewish Voice for Peace Action; Americans for Justice in Palestine Action; IfNotNow; and the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights.
"Hollow words of concern from the Biden administration are not enough," said Beth Miller, political director of JVP Action. "Palestinians in Masafer Yatta are under daily threat from the Israeli military, living the terrifying reality that their homes could be destroyed at a moment’s notice, with funding from the US government."