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Over 100 Democrats send Pompeo a letter opposing Trump’s settlement policy

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Last month, over 100 Democratic House members signed a letter that decried the Trump administration’s policy shift on West Bank settlements. The letter was initiated by Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI and was sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. On November 18, Pompeo announced that the U.S. government was abandoning a 1978 State Department legal opinion which determined that settlement expansion in the occupied territories were in violation of international law. Just a day after Pompeo’s announcement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu advanced a bill that would annex the Jordan Valley.

“If the U.S. unilaterally abandons international and human rights law, we can only expect a more chaotic and brutal twenty-first century for Americans and our allies, including the Israeli people,” reads Levin’s letter, “Given these serious implications, we strongly urge you to reverse this policy decision immediately.”

On Dec 1, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennet announced that new Israeli settlement would be constructed in Hebron. “Everyday things are getting worse for us, and no one bats an eye,” a Palestinian Hebron resident named Mufeed al-Sharabati told Mondoweiss‘ Yumna Patel, “The American government gave the green light to the Israelis to build settlements without consequence.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and Rep. Betty McCollum were among the notable signatories. However, the majority of House Democrats declined to sign.

“Some 126 Democrats DID NOT sign this letter,” tweeted Freedom Forward Executive Director Sunjeev Bery, “These 126 Democrats stayed SILENT on Trump’s acceptance of Israeli settlements. The IDF takes Palestinian land, often at gunpoint, to create segregated Jewish-only neighborhoods called ‘settlements.'”

Arab American Institute co-founder James Zogby told Mondoweiss that he believed the letter was quite significant nonetheless. He pointed out that it rightly focuses on human rights law, as opposed to simply Trump and Netanyahu.  “Most important is that the letter strongly endorses the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands,” explained Zogby. “To the best of my knowledge we have never seen a Congressional statement affirming these Conventions in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel has long refused to acknowledge the applicability of the Conventions since under their terms Israel is guilty of: ‘annexing’ occupied lands, building settlements for their own citizens on this land, stealing resources from this land, the expulsion of and denial of repatriation of Palestinians who inhabited this land, and whole range of human rights abuses committed against the captive Palestinian population.”

After the antiwar group CODEPINK praised Levin for skipping an AIPAC-sponsored trip to Israel this summer, the Representative distanced himself from the organization’s narrative, made it clear that his decision wasn’t political, and declared that Palestinians are not living under apartheid. “CODEPINK suggests I’m skipping the AIPAC trip to oppose ‘Apartheid Israel.’,” he tweeted, “In fact, I’ll be on a family vacation. I support a Jewish, democratic Israel, a two-state solution and Palestinian human rights. I was an anti-apartheid activist; Israel is not an apartheid state.”

However, after traveling to the West Bank last month, Levin fired off a series of tweets blasting Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. “Yesterday, I traveled to the southern West Bank, including the Palestinian village of Susya, which the Israeli government has destroyed twice and currently denies access to water,” he wrote, “Yet we watched the government utility, right before our eyes, lay in pipes right across the village’s land to deliver tap water to an illegal Israeli outpost nearby. It was simply incredible. As angry as the situation made me, the resilience of the Palestinian villagers left an even stronger impression.”

 

Michael Arria

Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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15 Responses

  1. eljay on December 5, 2019, 2:06 pm

    From Levin’s letter:

    … the State Department’s decision … has discredited the United States as an honest broker … and endangered the security of America, Israel, and the Palestinian people. … jeopardizing Israel’s future as a secure, democratic homeland for the Jewish people. … erodes the security of both Israel and the United States. … undermined America’s moral standing … … If the U.S. unilaterally abandons international and human rights law, we can only expect a more chaotic and brutal twenty-first century for Americans and our allies, including the Israeli people. …

    Levin’s passing concern for the Palestinians is touching.  :-P

    As is the case with all Zionists – even the “liberal” ones – Levin’s focus re. I-P:
    – is not on justice, accountability and equality; but, rather,
    – is on securing and preserving Jewish / “Jewish State” supremacism.

    • Talkback on December 6, 2019, 1:33 am

      eljay, we may have allready talked about this, but please allow me this question.
      You always claim that “Zionists” – you actually mean Jews – don’t have a right to a supremacist state. But that sounds to me somehow as if Jews have a right to a state albeit not a supremacist one. In any case how do you envision a state for Jews which isn’t supremacist since Jews are not and will never be a citizenship/nationality which means that a Jewish state by definition neither can be a state for all of its citizens nor for those it keeps expelled and denationalized to maintain an electoral, fake democratic regime to secure domination of one ethnic/religious group of citizens over the other (which is full bore Apartheid).

      • eljay on December 6, 2019, 1:00 pm

        || Talkback: eljay, we may have allready talked about this, but please allow me this question. … ||

        We may have, but I’m happy to answer your question.  :-)

        || … You always claim that “Zionists” – you actually mean Jews – don’t have a right to a supremacist state. … ||

        Zionists are people who believe that the religion-based identity of Jewish grants to those who choose to embrace it the “right” to be supremacists, to have a supremacist state and to do “necessary evil” unto others.

        Not all Zionists are Jewish. So, no, when I say Zionist I do not “actually mean Jews”.

        And I state my belief and opinion that no-one is entitled to a supremacist state of any kind.

        || … But that sounds to me somehow as if Jews have a right to a state albeit not a supremacist one. … ||

        If it sounds that way to you it’s only because you have misunderstood or misconstrued what I’ve said.

        || … In any case how do you envision a state for Jews which isn’t supremacist since … ||

        I don’t envision a state for Jews because any state that exists…
        – not for all of the citizens of, immigrants to and expats and refugees from that state; but, rather,
        – for people all over the world – citizens of homelands all over the world – who have chosen to embrace the religion-based identity of Jewish,
        …is necessarily a supremacist state.

      • Talkback on December 6, 2019, 3:40 pm

        I disagree. I think that your wording is unintentionally ambiguous.

        You clarify that not all Zionist are Jewish which is correct. But therefore it makes no sense to claim that Zionist don’t have a right to a supremacist state. Nobody claims that Zionists have a right to a state, wheter its supremacist or not. Zionist claim that JEWS have a right to a state, even it can only be a supremacist state. So it would be more correct to say that Jews don’t have a right to a supremacist state which is what you actually mean.

        But this allows for two more and unintended intepretations. 1.) Jews have a right to a state, albeit not a supremacist one. 2.) Everbody has a right to a supremacist state, except Jews.

        So it’s a huge difference between saying:
        1.) Zionists (or Jews) don’t have a right to a supremacist state.

        and actually meaning:

        2.) Jews don’t have a right to a state, because a state which is not for all its citizens can only be a supremacist state.

        when you actually want to say that nobody has a right to a state which is not the state for all of its citizens.

        I think it is important to base the argumentation on universal principles instead of focussing on Jews (or Palestinians), because Zionists can easily turn that into their pathetic “antisemitism”/”singling out Israel” sideshow.

      • eljay on December 7, 2019, 5:35 pm

        || Talkback: … You clarify that not all Zionist are Jewish which is correct. But therefore it makes no sense to claim that Zionist don’t have a right to a supremacist state. … ||

        I don’t make that claim.

        || … So it would be more correct to say that Jews don’t have a right to a supremacist state which is what you actually mean. … ||

        It’s what I actually say.

        || … But this allows for two more and unintended intepretations. … ||

        If you (deliberately) misinterpret what I’m saying, sure. But my position is clear: No group of people is entitled to a supremacist state of any kind.

        But maybe you think that a “Jewish State” – a state primarily of and for people in and of homelands all over the world who have chosen to embrace the religion-based identity of Jewish – can exist as a secular and democratic state of and for all of the people living in and up to n-generations removed from the geographic region comprising that state.

        If ‘yes’, please do explain how that would work.
        If ‘no’, how do you arrive at “two or more and unintended interpretations”?

    • James Canning on December 6, 2019, 12:21 pm

      @eljay So you think the damage being done to the US by Pompeo’s reckless acceptance of Israel’s illegal colonization program in the occupied West Bank, should be ignored by Democrats in the House?

      • eljay on December 6, 2019, 3:08 pm

        || James Canning: @eljay So you think the damage being done to the US by Pompeo’s reckless acceptance of Israel’s illegal colonization program in the occupied West Bank, should be ignored by Democrats in the House? ||

        Nope.

  2. MHughes976 on December 5, 2019, 4:08 pm

    That the United States or any Western power could be regarded in any circumstances as an honest broker is astonishing. The liberal Zs do have a world of their own.

  3. Kay24 on December 5, 2019, 8:49 pm

    Pompeo does not care. He goes along with whatever Trump does. It seems members of Congress are quite helpless as Trump overrides them when it comes to aid to Ukraine, and handing over Jerusalem and illegal settlements to Israel. The dictator has the last word.

  4. bcg on December 5, 2019, 9:53 pm

    Recent news::

    https://www.jpost.com/International/147-nations-call-to-halt-aid-to-Israeli-settlements-610048

    Some 147 United Nations member states, including the European Union, have called to halt all aid to West Bank settlements, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing to annex the Jordan Valley.
    At the General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, they approved a resolution which called on the international community not to “render aid or assistance to illegal settlement activities, including not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connection with settlements in the occupied territories.”

  5. James Canning on December 6, 2019, 12:13 pm

    I agree with James Zogby that the letter is important even if the Israel lobby prevented most Democrats from signing it.

    Pompeo is shamelessly presenting the US as a rogue state threatening international peace, in order to curry favor with fanatical Christian Zionists. And, of course, Pompeo wants to please Sheldon Adelson (and his ilk).

    • eljay on December 6, 2019, 4:01 pm

      || James Canning: … Pompeo is shamelessly presenting the US as a rogue state threatening international peace … ||

      Pompeo is correctly presenting the U.S. as a rogue state that threatens international peace. It’s a refreshing change.

      • oldgeezer on December 7, 2019, 11:00 am

        @eljay

        Hear, hear.

        Ever thus during my lifetime.

      • eljay on December 7, 2019, 5:42 pm

        || oldgeezer @eljay

        Hear, hear.

        Ever thus during my lifetime. ||

        It’s funny when American politicians wail and moan about how bad American *might* become if American *were* to do all of the sh*t it’s been doing deliberately and with impunity for decades and – in many (most?) cases – with the approval and support of those same politicians.

  6. Talkback on December 8, 2019, 5:56 am

    “Israel has long refused to acknowledge the applicability of the Conventions since under their terms Israel is guilty of: ‘annexing’ occupied lands, building settlements for their own citizens on this land, stealing resources from this land, the expulsion of and denial of repatriation of Palestinians who inhabited this land, and whole range of human rights abuses committed against the captive Palestinian population.”

    Say it three times and your wish may come true:
    Israel is a peace loving democracy which treats Nonjews like human beings.

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