BREAKING: 107 House Democrats Rebuke State Department Reversal on Israeli Settlements

November 22, 2019
Press Release

Congressman Andy Levin (MI-09) last night led a letter signed by 107 House Democrats rebuking the State Department’s decision to reverse decades of bipartisan U.S. foreign policy on Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The letter reads:

“In ignoring international law, this administration has undermined America’s moral standing and sent a dangerous message to those who do not share our values: human rights and international law, which have governed the international order and protected U.S. troops and civilians since 1949, no longer apply.”

Congressman Levin recently visited Israel and the West Bank, and returned from the trip with confidence that a two-state solution is within reach.

The full text of the letter can be found below and HERE.

November 21, 2019

The Honorable Mike Pompeo

Secretary

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street NW

Washington, D.C., 20520

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We write to express our strong disagreement with the State Department’s decision to reverse decades of bipartisan U.S. policy on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank by repudiating the 1978 State Department legal opinion that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.” This announcement, following the administration’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem outside of a negotiated agreement; its closure of the Palestinian mission in Washington, D.C. and U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem; and its halting of aid Congress appropriated to the West Bank and Gaza, has discredited the United States as an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, severely damaged prospects for peace, and endangered the security of America, Israel, and the Palestinian people.

U.S. administrations from both parties have followed the 1978 guidance because settlement expansion into the occupied West Bank makes a contiguous Palestinian state inviable, jeopardizing Israel’s future as a secure, democratic homeland for the Jewish people. The State Department’s unilateral reversal on the status of settlements, without any clear legal justification, therefore has offered a tacit endorsement of settlements, their expansion, and associated demolitions of Palestinian homes. In addition, one day after the Department’s decision, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved to advance a bill to annex the Jordan Valley. As annexation and the United States’ approval thereof would destroy prospects for a two-state solution and lead to a more entrenched and possibly deadlier conflict, this decision erodes the security of both Israel and the United States.

This State Department decision blatantly disregards Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which affirms that any occupying power shall not “deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” In ignoring international law, this administration has undermined America’s moral standing and sent a dangerous message to those who do not share our values: human rights and international law, which have governed the international order and protected U.S. troops and civilians since 1949, no longer apply. 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.

Given these serious implications, we strongly urge you to reverse this policy decision immediately.     

Sincerely,

[Members of Congress]

Signers of the letter are:

Alma Adams (NC-12), Pete Aguilar (CA-31), Karen Bass (CA-37), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (VA-08), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL), Anthony Brown (MD-04), Julia Brownley (CA-26), G. K. Butterfield (NC-1), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), André Carson (IN-07), Sean Casten (IL-06), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Judy Chu (CA-27), David Cicilline (RI-01), Gilbert R. Cisneros Jr. (CA-39), Katherine M. Clark (MA-05), James E. Clyburn (SC-06), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11), Joe Courtney (CT-02), TJ Cox (CA-21), Jason Crow (CO-06), Danny K. Davis (IL-07, Peter A. DeFazio (OR-04), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Mike Doyle (PA-18), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Bill Foster (IL-11), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Denny Heck (WA-10), Jim Himes (CT-04), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr. (GA-04), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), William R. Keating (MA-10), Robin L. Kelly (IL-02), Joseph P. Kennedy III (MA-04), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Dan Kildee (MI-05), Andy Kim (NJ-03), Ron Kind (WI-03), Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), John B. Larson (CT-01), Brenda L. Lawrence (MI-14), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Andy Levin (MI-09), John Lewis (GA-05), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), Doris Matsui (CA-06), Betty McCollum (MN-04), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Gwen S. Moore (WI-04), Joseph D. Morelle (NY-25), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Richard E. Neal (MA-01), Joe Neguse (CO-02), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Ed Perlmutter (CO-07), Scott Peters (CA-52), Chellie Pingree (MN-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Katie Porter (CA-45), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), David Price (NC-04), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Cedric L. Richmond (LA-02), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (VA-03), José E. Serrano (NY-15), Adam Smith (WA-09), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Mark Takano (CA-41), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Lori Trahan (MA-03), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Peter J. Visclosky (IN-01), Maxine Waters (CA-43), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Peter Welch (VT-AL), Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), John Yarmuth (KY-03),