WASHINGTON (JTA) — Ten Democratic senators, among them four Jews, wrote Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, urging him not to demolish Palestinian villages that Israel has deemed unauthorized.
“We have long championed a two-state solution as a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said the letter, initiated by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. “Yet, your government’s efforts to forcibly evict entire Palestinian communities and expand settlements throughout the West Bank not only directly imperil a two-state solution, but we believe also endanger Israel’s future as a Jewish democracy.”
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has said Israel plans to demolish Susiya, a small village near Hebron, and Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin village near the West Bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim, parallel to plans to demolish unauthorized West Bank Jewish settlements.
The letter comes a month or so after J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group, launched with its student affiliate, J Street U, a campaign to prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes.
“We welcome [the letter] as a sign that top lawmakers are increasingly speaking out about alarming actions by the Israeli government that undermine the two-state solution and endanger Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people,” J Street said in a statement.
Also signing the letter were: Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Tom Carper, D-Del., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Al Franken, D-Minn., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii. Schatz and Franken, like Feinstein and Sanders, are Jewish.