A group of House Democrats, including Reps. Rashida Tlaib (MI), Ilhan Omar (MN), and 105 others, signed a letter Thursday urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to immediately revoke the State Department’s blessing of Israel’s controversial settlements in territory claimed by Palestinians.
The Democrats argue that the Trump administration is undermining the United States’ ability to be “an honest broker” between Israel and the Palestine territory, the Jerusalem Post reports.
“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,” the letter reads in part.
Democrats slam Trump policy
The letter, signed by nearly half of the caucus’s 233 Democratic members, according to Fox News, reflects a leftward push in the Democratic Party’s stance on Israel, which historically was nothing but supportive. The signatories include 12 committee chairs and two lawmakers who have been conspicuously accused of anti-Semitism: Tlaib and Omar, as well as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
Led by Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI), the letter’s authors criticized Pompeo’s Monday decision to no longer consider the settlements a violation of international law. International groups like the United Nations have supported the Palestinian freedom struggle, a cause that finds increasing support in the Democratic House of Representatives.
The Democrats claimed that Pompeo’s position risked undermining America’s position “as an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinian Authority” and “severely damaged prospects for peace, and endangered the security of America, Israel, and the Palestinian people.” Pompeo’s decision effectively revokes a 1978 State Department legal opinion and a more recent policy from the Obama administration that effectively declared the settlements illegal, Fox notes.
The Dems further claimed that the Trump administration’s “unilateral” change makes “a contiguous Palestine inviable, jeopardizing Israel’s future as a secure, democratic homeland for the Jewish people” and provides “tacit endorsement” of settlements and their expansion, undermining hopes of a two-state solution.
It’s the latest move by the Trump administration bolstering America’s relationship with Israel. Trump’s controversial embassy move in 2017 faced similar pushback.
Israel praises “historic” move
Indeed, the Trump administration has been routinely criticized by the pro-Palestine Left for bolstering America’s relationship with Israel — but supporters of the president have fired back that the Democrat critics are sympathetic to terror groups like Hamas and that the party’s embrace of the Palestinian liberation movement has injected anti-Semitism into the party’s ranks.
Omar and Tlaib, both members of the so-called “Squad,” were banned from visiting Israel earlier this year because of the lawmakers’ support of the Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Critics say that the movement is anti-Semitic and seeks to discredit Israel’s right to exist.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who banned the lawmakers, is facing legal troubles that have plunged Israel into uncharted waters. The head of state has fought back against criminal charges of corruption by declaring himself as the victim of a “witch hunt” by the media and other enemies, according to Axios.
Netanyahu called the settlements decision “historic,” but it has been condemned by international groups like the European Union, which called a two-state solution “the only realistic and viable way to fulfill the legitimate aspirations of both parties.”