Washington (QNN)- Twenty-six House Democrats on Monday urged U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to pressure the Israeli Occupation government to prevent illegal settlement construction in the E1 area between Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The lawmakers who signed the letter, led by progressive Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, expressed their “immense concern” about the advancement of a plan to build some 3,400 illegal housing units in the E1 area of the West Bank, highlighting how settlements entrench the occupation, undermine the prospects of a two-state solution, diminish the viability of a Palestinian state, and represent a violation of international law.
The lawmakers note that there was a 28 percent increase in settlement construction during the Trump administration, a stark departure from previous U.S. administrations from both parties.
They describe efforts to advance the approval of 3,400 housing units in E1 as “an irreconcilable challenge to a lasting peace solution,” describing the plans as “doomsday settlements.”
“Frozen for years, plans to build settlements in E1 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,” they wrote.
“Israeli settlements in the West Bank further entrench the occupation and undermine the prospects of a two-state solution,” they warned.
“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.”
They urged the US State Department “to exert diplomatic pressure” to prevent the E1 settlement construction and demanded an update on those efforts by December 15.
An Israeli military body has recently scheduled two meetings in the next few weeks to discuss the plans for 3,400 illegal settlement houses in E1.
The plan was initiated last year under the previous government of Benjamin Netanyahu and, at the time, drew widespread international criticism.
Construction in E1 is in the east of Jerusalem beyond the 1948-Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories and has long been considered a red line as a point of no return for a potential two-state solution.
Construction in the 12-square-kilometer (4.6-square-mile) area, which the lawmakers describe as “a vital corridor to Palestinian life,” would effectively split the West Bank in half, impeding traffic between the northern and southern parts of the West Bank and between the West Bank and East Jerusalem—effectively dooming a potential Palestinian state.
The other lawmakers to sign onto the letter include Reps. Don Beyer, Earl Blumenauer, Andre Carson, Andy Levin, Joaquin Castro, Alan Lowenthal, Steve Cohen, Jim McGovern, Judy Chu, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Debbie Dingell, Don Payne, Anna Eshoo, Chellie Pingree, Jared Huffman, David Price, Sara Jacobs, Jan Schakowsky, Pramila Jayapal, Maxine Waters, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Peter Welch, Mondaire Jones, John Yarmuth and Barbara Lee.
Americans for Peace Now’s President and CEO Hadar Susskind described E1 settlement construction as “the textbook example” of unilateral actions that make achieving a two-state solution more difficult, saying “it is vital that Israel halt the approval process. We are grateful to Congressman Pocan and the 25 other signatories for their bold leadership against this. I hope the Biden Administration will use every diplomatic tool to prevent this from happening.”