Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have released an open letter warning the Israeli government against applying sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria region. The letter addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior members of his government was endorsed by 191 out of 233 House Democrats. None of the 197 Republicans in the House supported the move.

“[W]e express our deep concern with the stated intention to move ahead with any unilateral annexation of West Bank territory, and we urge your government to reconsider plans to do so,” the House Democrats wrote, referring to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s proposed plan to apply Israeli law to Judea and Samaria, an area which Israel acquired in the defensive war of 1967.

Based on an agreement reached with his coalition partner Benny Gantz, Israeli Prime Minister could implement the sovereignty plan as early as July 1. The step will be line with U.S. President Donald Trump’s peace plan unveiled in January 2020. The Trump plan allows for extending Israel’s law and sovereignty initially to over 30 percent of Judea and Samaria, which constitutes the historic Jewish heartland.

Israel’s sovereignty over this area “would likely jeopardize Israel’s significant progress on normalization with Arab states,” the Democrats warned. The letter was drafted by four Democratic lawmakers, namely Reps. Ted Deutch of Florida, Brad Schneider of Illinois, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and David Price of North Carolina. House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler and former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz were among its prominent supporters.

The Times of Israel news website reported the details of the open letter released by the House Democrats (View the PDF-version of the letter published by the Politico here):

Nearly 200 Democratic House members penned an open letter to the Israeli leadership Thursday, warning against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to start annexing parts of the West Bank with the Trump administration’s backing as early as July 1.

Addressed to Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, the letter implores Jerusalem to halt its plan, saying it would erode the possibility of a two-state solution and damage Israel’s ties with America.

“As committed partners in supporting and protecting the special US-Israel relationship,” the missive said, “we express our deep concern with the stated intention to move ahead with any unilateral annexation of West Bank territory, and we urge your government to reconsider plans to do so.”

The letter was orchestrated by Florida Congressman Ted Deutch and Illinois Congressman Brad Schneider, two of the most staunch pro-Israel members of Congress, who rarely criticize the Jewish state.

It was signed by a number of powerful and prominent House Democrats, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin. Not a single Republican joined them.

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden also opposes the proposed Israeli measure which complies with the Trump Peace Plan. “I do not support annexation,” Biden said on May 19, referring to Israeli sovereignty plan. He also vowed to undo the measures taken by President Trump. “I’m going to reverse Trump administration steps which I think significantly undercut the prospects of peace,” he added. This includes moving the U.S. embassy out of Jerusalem, media reports said.

By opposing Israel’s right to extend sovereignty, the House Democrats have firmly positioned themselves in line with the United Nations, the European Union, and the Arab League.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres told Israel on Wednesday to “abandon” the sovereignty move, calling it a “most serious violation of international law.”

The Arab League, comprising of failed states, genocidal regimes, and military dictatorships in the Middle East and Africa, talked of worldwide jihad if the Jewish State went ahead with the plan. The move will ignite “a religious war in and beyond our region,” League’s Secretory General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Wednesday.

EU countries, spearheaded by France and Belgium, are also calling for sanctions against Israel over the issue. German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass traveled to Israel earlier this month “to lobby against West Bank annexation,” German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

Belgium’s parliament on Friday overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for “European-wide economic sanctions against Israel if Jerusalem does not comply with its demands,” news reports said.

The Democrats’ stance is in sharp contrast with the response of the Republicans in the House. Top Republicans supported Israel’s right to apply sovereignty to the region. On June 22, 116 out of 198 Republicans in the House signed a letter supporting Israel’s rights.

“We write to reaffirm the unshakeable alliance between the United States and Israel, to emphasize that Israel has the right to make sovereign decisions independent of outside pressure, and to express our support for you as you make such decisions in your capacity as Israel’s democratically-elected prime minister,” the House Republicans wrote in the letter. “As dedicated friends of the Jewish state, we reaffirm our steadfast commitment to the relationship between our two nations and Israel’s right to sovereignty and defensible borders.”

The White House also bolstered Israel’s position, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday stating that the decision on the sovereignty was “for Israelis to make.”

White House team to discuss Israel’s sovereignty plan

[Cover image via YouTube]

 

 
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