FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. - October 28, 2021
CMEP Supports Biden Administration's Opposition to the Israeli Government’s Approval of New Settlement Construction
Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) welcomes the Biden Administration’s opposition to recent actions of the Israeli Government, expressed publicly and privately in conversations between senior officials from both governments. In the past week, the Israeli Government has launched several provocative actions that individually and collectively are a threat to peace in Israel/Palestine. Should these stand, they would also undermine the Biden Administration’s stated policy opposing any unilateral measures that could damage the prospects for a two-state solution.
The most recent among these Israeli government actions was the decision on October 27 to advance thousands of new settlement units, many of them deep in the occupied West Bank. This adds to a number of other recent provocative decisions including designating six Palestinian civil rights groups as “terror organizations,” the opening of construction tenders on October 24 for 1,355 new settlement units (in addition to the thousands of settlement units moved forward on October 27), pushing forward evictions in East Jerusalem, and failing to stop the surge in settler violence against Palestinians.
While we welcome the Biden Administration's formal objections, verbal opposition is not enough. The US government’s response must not only be heard, but tangible consequences must also be felt by Israelis and their leaders. Among the possible, proportionate, and appropriate US government responses are:
- Renewing the US government’s determination that the very existence of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is inconsistent with international law.
- Removing all vestiges of the Trump Administration’s actions to treat Israeli settlements as legitimate parts of Israel.
- Supporting legislation preventing US government funds from being used for human rights violations, such as Rep. McCollum’s bill, H.R.2590 to prevent US military assistance from being used for child detentions, further annexing Palestinian land, and demolishing Palestinian homes or structures.
- Rejecting the Israeli government’s designation of the six Palestinian civil society organizations as “terrorists.” As State Department Spokesperson Price put it, “We believe that respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, and a strong, independent civil society – we believe they are critically important to democracy and to responsible and responsive governance.”
- Supporting efforts at the United Nations to strongly protest increasing settlement activity and other human rights violations.
On October 26, State Department Spokesperson Price said, “We strongly oppose the expansion of settlements, which is completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tensions and to ensure calm, and it damages the prospects for a two-state solution.” The time has come for “strongly oppose” to be transformed into action, not only words.
Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is a coalition of 30 national church communions and organizations, including Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Evangelical traditions that works to encourage US policies that actively promote a comprehensive resolution to conflicts in the Middle East with a focus on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. CMEP works to mobilize US Christians to embrace a holistic perspective and to be advocates of equality, human rights, security, and justice for Israelis, Palestinians, and all people of the Middle East.