26 Congress Democrats warn against Israel’s E1 settlement plans

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Days of Palestine – Jerusalem

26 House Democrats on Monday urged US secretary of state Antony Blinken to pressure the Israeli government to refrain from settlement construction in “Area E1” between Jerusalem and the West Bank.

According to Haaretz newspaper website, the lawmakers – led by Congressman Mark Pocan, who recently visited Israel and the West Bank – expressed their “immense concern” about Israeli efforts to advance approval of settlement expansion plans.

In their letter to Blinken, they highlighted how settlements entrench the occupation, undermine the prospects for a two-state solution, diminish the viability of a Palestinian state, and represent a violation of international law.

The lawmakers noted that there was a 28 percent increase in settlement construction during the Trump administration, which is a stark departure from previous US administrations from both parties (Democratic and Republican).

They described the Israeli intents to advance the approval of 3,400 housing units in E1 as “an irreconcilable challenge to a lasting peace solution,” describing the plans as “doomsday settlements.”

Last months, the Biden administration gave its sharpest public rebuke of Israel’s settlement policy, expressing deep concern over its plans to advance thousands of settler units in the West Bank and the publication of tenders for 1,300 units in a number of West Bank settlements.

If Israel goes ahead with plans to build in that area, it would threaten the territorial contiguity necessary for a viable independent Palestinian state by dividing the north of the West Bank from the south, as well as the West Bank from East Jerusalem. Past US administrations made clear to Israeli governments their strong opposition to settlement construction in this strategic area.

In the same context, Americans for Peace Now head Hadar Susskind described E1 settlement construction as “the textbook example” of Israel’s unilateral actions that make achieving a two-state solution more difficult.

 “It is vital that Israel halt the approval process. We are grateful to Congressman Pocan and the 25 other signatories for their bold leadership against this. I hope the Biden administration will use every diplomatic tool to prevent this from happening,” he said.

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