This week, we watched in horror as Israeli police and armed right-wing Israeli Jews began attacking protesters, rallying in defense of Palestinian families under threat of being forcibly removed from their homes, in the neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah and Al-Bustan, in occupied East Jerusalem. Most of the Palestinians living in Sheikh Jarrah are refugees or descendants of refugees, expelled from their homes in 1948.
As a Quaker organization, we denounce this violence.
The violence resulting from the threat of these forced expulsions, sanctioned by Israeli courts, has dramatically escalated. Israeli police have violently cracked down on Palestinian protesters, including those worshiping at the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the final week of Ramadan. In response to these events, over 250 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza and Israel has responded with more than 130 airstrikes in Gaza.
As a Quaker organization, we denounce this violence. For nearly 150 years Quakers have maintained close ties and relationships with the people living in what are now Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. We hold fast to our belief that all people are equal before God, each deserving human rights and dignity.
Our work in the Middle East is guided by our commitment to the principles of truth, integrity, equality, and peace. It is these values that lead us to speak out against this violence and seek to end it. We call on Israel to stop the forcible removal of Palestinians from their homes and land. This is not only a violation of international law; it is also morally wrong.
President Biden campaigned on centering human rights and the rule of law in U.S. foreign policy. We ask him to follow through with his promise.
History shows that the expulsions in occupied East Jerusalem are not isolated incidents. They are part of a larger state-sanctioned effort to expand illegal Israeli settlements, demolish Palestinian homes and extend Israeli control over occupied Palestinian territory.
The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) urgently calls on the Biden administration and the United States Congress to publicly censure Israel for its violent expulsions of Palestinians and its illegal expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
President Biden campaigned on centering human rights and the rule of law in U.S. foreign policy. We ask him to follow through with his promise. Further action is needed in the face of these violations of international law that are shattering the prospects for a two-state solution.
Specifically, FCNL calls on the Biden Administration to:
- Use existing U.S. leverage with Israel to ensure an immediate and permanent cancellation of the planned forced displacement of families in Sheikh Jarrah and across the occupied Palestinian territories.
- Undertake and make public a review of whether Israel’s demolitions of Palestinian homes and property have been conducted with U.S.-made weapons and equipment in violation of the Arms Export Control Act of 1976.
Specifically, FCNL calls on Congress to:
- Support the Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act (H.R. 2590), introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum (MN- 04), to prohibit the use of U.S. funds to support the military detention of children, the demolition of Palestinian homes, and further annexation of Palestinian territory.
- Unequivocally oppose the expulsion of Palestinians and the destruction of their homes. Publicly make clear that Israel must be held to the same human rights standards as other nations.
This latest round of violence threatens to unleash spiraling instability and bloodshed. This challenging situation requires sustained diplomatic engagement and consistent application of international and US domestic law.
FCNL urges the Biden administration and members of Congress to use their influence to help bring a swift conclusion to the latest round of violence, ensure that Palestinian rights and dignity are protected, and negotiate a peaceful and permanent end to the conflict in Israel/Palestine.
Note: This statement was updated on June 4, 2021 to more accurately reflect the events taking place in Sheikh Jarrah and Al-Bustan.