The Honorable Antony J. Blinken Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street N.W. Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Secretary Blinken:
We write to express our immense concern about the Israeli Government’s efforts to approve settlement construction in the 12 square-kilometer E-1 area near Jerusalem in the West Bank.
Israeli settlements in the West Bank further entrench the occupation and undermine the prospects of a two-state solution. Settlements diminish the viability of a contiguous Palestinian state, thereby also threatening the future of a negotiated two-state solution that guarantees the civil and political rights, safety, and self-determination of both peoples. Furthermore, settlements are a violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits the transfer of civilians by an occupying power into the territory it occupies.
Prior to the Trump presidency, U.S. Administrations from both parties have held that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are “inconsistent with international law” in accordance with 1978 U.S. State Department guidance. Unfortunately, there was a 28 percent increase in West Bank settlement construction during the previous Administration.1 The recent efforts by the Israeli Government to advance the approval to build 3,400 housing units in the highly sensitive area known as E-1 pose an irreconcilable challenge to a lasting peace solution between Israel and the Palestinians. Frozen for years, plans to build settlements in E-1 have been referred to as “doomsday settlements” because they would threaten the territorial contiguity necessary for a viable independent Palestinian state by dividing the north of the West Bank from the south, as well as the West Bank from East Jerusalem. E-1 is a vital corridor for Palestinian communal life, connecting Ramallah and the northern West Bank to Bethlehem and the southern West Bank.
To ensure the prospects of peace we urge the State Department to exert diplomatic pressure to prevent settlement construction in E-1. In addition, we request an update regarding the State Department’s steps to discourage the advancement of settlements in E-1 by December 15, 2021.
Mark Pocan Member of Congress
1 https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-donald-trump-israel-iran-nuclear-west-bank- afda64d2a213cb8de2ce72e46fe3385f