73 Democrats urge Biden to label Israeli settlements illegal, ‘occupied’

Letter also calls on Biden to reopen eastern Jerusalem consulate and reaffirm “occupation” in documents.

By World Israel News Staff

Seventy-three Democrats from the House of Representatives called on President Joe Biden to roll back Trump administration policies towards the Mideast conflict.

“We urge you to reverse the previous administration’s abandonment of longstanding, bipartisan United States policy,” said the letter.

“While there are additional steps that both parties to the conflict can and must take to preserve the possibility of one day reaching a two-state solution, we believe the first step for the United States must be to urgently restore American policy positions conducive to the prospects for peace,” it concluded.

Specifically, the Democratic signatories called on Biden to reopen a separate U.S. consulate in Jerusalem for the Palestinians, resume financial aid to the PA, and “make clear that the U.S. considers Israeli settlements to be inconsistent with international law.”

The lawmakers also called for U.S. documents and communications to “consistently refer to the West Bank as occupied,” and urged Biden to formally withdraw former president Donald Trump’s peace plan.

Possibly the most politically charged recommendation, however, was to “Consistently and proactively issue firm public condemnations of specific actions that violate the rights of either party or undermine the prospects for peace.” Biden and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett have signaled that they prefer not to air their disagreements in public.

In a nod to Israel, the Democrats also called on the White House to “Insist through all channels that Hamas stop further rocket attacks against Israel.”

Biden’s views on the consulate and Palestinian aid are well-known. In May, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the U.S. intended to reopen its eastern Jerusalem consulate, a move which then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would oppose as a violation of its sovereignty. The U.S. has already approved $235 million in financial aid to the PA.

Notably, the letter did not ask that the U.S. embassy, which was transferred to Jerusalem in 2017, be moved back to Tel Aviv.

Among the signatories were Reps. Rose DeLauro (D-CT) and John Yarmuth (D-KY), who respectively chair the powerful Appropriations and Budget committees.

Seven of the signatories were Jewish, including Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), who spearheaded the letter. So did Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), high-profile members of an informal group of liberal lawmakers known as The Squad.

One signature conspicuous for its absence was Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI). The daughter of Palestinian immigrants and a member of The Squad, Tlaib advocates for a single bi-national state of Jews and Palestinians.