Senators Feinstein and Sanders initiate letter urging Netanyahu not to demolish illegally built Palestinian Arab villages.
By Ben Ariel, INN
Ten Democratic senators, among them four Jews, on Wednesday wrote Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu urging him not to demolish Palestinian Arab villages despite the fact that they are illegal and built without authorization.
“We have long championed a two-state solution as a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said the letter, initiated by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and which was quoted by JTA.
“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,” the letter adds.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman recently said Israel plans to demolish the village of Susiya, near Hevron, and Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin village near the Maaleh Adumim.
The other Jewish senators to sign the letter are Al Franken of Minnesota and Brian Schatz of Hawaii. Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Tom Carper of Delaware, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Jeff Merkley of Oregon also signed.
Last week, the European Union (EU) also condemned Israel for the demolition of illegal Arab buildings and demanding Israel refrain from further demolitions.
In a statement released by the local Office of the European Union Representative, the EU slammed Israel over the planned eviction of Bedouin squatters who established illegal settlements in the northern Jordan Valley in eastern Israel over the past decade.
Some of the illegal construction in Judea and Samaria has been directly supported by the EU. According to a report by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) in February 2016, the EU had built over 1,000 illegal structures in Judea and Samaria. Of those 1,000 buildings, 400 were built from 2012 to 2014, while 600 more were built in 2015 alone.
Over the last few years, Israel has several times demolished structures built illegally for Arabs by European NGOs with funding from the European Union.
The countries involved in the illegal construction have consistently condemned Israel for the demolitions, even as it has been made clear to them that the demolition orders were issued because the structures were built without permission.