US Lawmakers: Israel Should Cancel Mass Evictions against Palestinians in Masafer Yatta

US Lawmakers: Israel Should Cancel Mass Evictions against Palestinians in Masafer Yatta

Palestinians survey their destroyed homes in Masafer Yatta. (Photo: The Guardian)

A group of House Democrats on Thursday urged US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to pressurize the Israeli government to rescind its planned evictions of more than 1,000 Palestinians from their homes in Masafer Yatta village, south of the southern occupied West Bank city of AlKhalil.

In a bicameral letter, the lawmakers raised urgent concerns that evictions could spark violence and undermine human rights, international law, and a diplomatic path to peace through a two-state solution.

On May 5, the Israeli High Court paved the way for demolitions in Masafer Yatta to create an Israeli military exercise zone, ending a two-decade legal battle by the impacted communities. The Israeli government has now begun demolitions in one of the largest mass evictions of Palestinian people from their homes since 1967.

“As supporters of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, we believe such evictions undermine our shared democratic values, imperil Israel's security, and disregard Palestinian human and civil rights,” the lawmakers wrote.

“We are deeply concerned about what may happen if these evictions move forward,” the lawmakers continued. “We agree with comments you made last May regarding actions ‘that in the first instance could spark tension, conflict and war and also ultimately undermine even further the difficult prospects for two states’ and that such actions include the ‘evictions of Palestinians from their homes where they lived for decades and generations.’

“We respectfully request that you immediately engage with the Israeli government to prevent these evictions and further military training exercises in the area. We further ask that you encourage the Israeli government to approve master plans for the villages in Masafer Yatta so that these Palestinian communities may build and maintain homes, schools, infrastructure, and sustain their agricultural and pastoral lands,” the lawmakers concluded. “With President Biden visiting Israel in late June, it is critical that the Administration respond quickly to ensure that this momentous trip can deliver concrete steps toward peace.”

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