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As a faith-based organization with a long history of advocating for peace in the Middle East, the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) opposes Israel’s proposed annexation of Palestinian territory. We call on Congress to declare it will not recognize a unilateral assertion of Israeli sovereignty over Palestinian lands and that such annexation will irreparably harm the U.S.-Israel relationship.

In May, Israel’s parliament swore in a new unity government vowing to carry out a plan to annex nearly a third of the West Bank as early as July 2020. The plan is consistent with steps laid out in the Trump administration’s “deal of the century,” and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has provided the U.S. administration’s blessing for extending Israeli sovereignty over occupied Palestinian territory.

Congress must act quickly to reassert its unequivocal opposition to Israeli annexation of the West Bank and to withhold support for any U.S. recognition of it.

For decades, FCNL has worked to support a just and lasting peace in the Middle East through a two-state solution and the protection of human rights for all Palestinians and Israelis. FCNL’s work is rooted in Quaker testimonies of peace and equality and draws on Quaker witness in the Middle East.

The prospect of Israel’s annexation of the West Bank places the vision for a lawful, diplomatic, and equitable resolution to the conflict under unprecedented threat. Such a step would not only contravene international law and decades of established U.S. policy, as affirmed by presidents of both parties, but also overturn the basic premise that both Israelis and Palestinians have a right to self-determination and security in their own homelands. It would impair the prospects for peace by undercutting diplomatic efforts and ruling out a two-state solution.

Annexation of the West Bank would be interpreted by Palestinians as a hostile act and deepen popular resentment from decades of occupation and mistreatment. The resulting sense of isolation and hopelessness would dramatically increase the chances of violence and multiply the threats to civilian lives and livelihoods. It could also lead to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, leaving West Bank Palestinians without their own civilian government and subject to direct Israeli military rule.

Furthermore, Israeli action to seize control over the West Bank runs the risk of provoking a backlash from neighboring states, including longtime U.S. and Israeli security partner, Jordan. Jordan has already threatened a “massive conflict” if annexation is carried out.

At a time when the world needs global cooperation more than ever to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, Israel’s planned move is likely to detract from efforts to prevent the spread of the virus, damage Israel’s relations with Arab and European leaders, and further destabilize a highly-volatile region. By encouraging this confrontational approach, the Trump administration is sending a clear signal of disregard for internationally recognized human rights and basic human dignity.

Congress must act quickly to reassert its unequivocal opposition to Israeli annexation of the West Bank and to withhold support for any U.S. recognition of it.

Diane Randall

Diane Randall

General Secretary
Diane Randall is the General Secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Diane leads FCNL’s staff to effectively educate and lobby for the policies and legislative priorities established by FCNL’s General Committee.

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