WASHINGTON, Tuesday, March 17, 2020 (WAFA) – A letter signed by 64 members of the United States Congress and addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the US administration to oppose Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank and to determine whether materiel purchased from or funded by the US is being used to carry out these demolitions.
“We write with concerns over the ongoing home demolitions and forcible transfer of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, including the recent demolitions in Wadi al-Hummus and other communities in East Jerusalem. We urge you to press the Israeli government to prevent more families from being forcibly transferred and having their homes destroyed,” said the letter led by Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Steve Cohen (D-TN).
“The Israeli government recently accelerated the rate of home demolitions. In the West Bank, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) recorded a 45% increase in the demolitions of homes and other civilian structures in 2019 compared to 2018,” it said.
The letter requests the State Department to examine Israeli compliance with the requirements applied by the Arms Export Control Act in order to ensure that US-supplied equipment is not being used to destroy Palestinian homes. The signers note that the United States “should work to prevent unlawful home demolitions and the forcible transfer of civilians everywhere in the world and prevent the use of US-origin equipment in this destructive practice.”
The letter posed several questions to Pompeo mainly having to do with the legality of the use of US-supplied defense equipment in the demolition of Palestinian homes and whether or not there were any restrictions for their use.
“We look forward to your response to these questions by April 30, 2020, and also urge you to take immediate action to press the Israeli government to prevent more home demolitions, and request that you provide Congress with the information necessary for proper oversight of the use of US-defense articles and other items purchased with foreign military financing for use in the West Bank,” demanded the US Congress members.
“US-supplied military equipment to Israel should only be used for legitimate self-defense against the very real security threats Israel faces,” said Khanna. “Such military equipment should not be used to turn Palestinian homes into rubble, displace families, and tear apart communities. I look forward to the State Department providing the information necessary to ensure that U.S.-supplied military equipment in the West Bank is not being used in this destructive practice.”
The letter was also endorsed by J Street, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), and Win Without War.