Two Democratic representatives reached out to President Joe Biden on Thursday, urging him to persist in pressuring Israel to address the issue of violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank.
In a letter, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Rep. Dan Goldman of New York emphasized the threat posed by such violence to the ongoing efforts to prevent the escalation of the conflict. The lawmakers, who were in Israel during the October 7 Hamas attack, argue that the vigilante violence by Israeli settlers undermines the Palestinian Authority, seen as a crucial partner in the quest to unite Gaza and the West Bank as part of a future peace plan establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
The letter underscores the lawmakers’ strong belief in a two-state solution as the only genuine option for a just, secure, and prosperous future for both Israelis and Palestinians. They express concern that settler violence erodes the trust and cooperation needed to make progress toward a two-state outcome and enduring peace in the region.
The ongoing Israeli violence against Palestinians in the West Bank has strained relations between the U.S. and Israel. Secretary of State Antony Blinken conveyed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that these incidents are “unacceptable.” The letter from Booker and Goldman, who are allies of President Biden with significant ties to Israel, seems to align with the president’s position at a crucial moment in his domestic politics and his relationship with Netanyahu.
While falling short of advocating for a cease-fire, as some Democratic members of Congress and progressive activists desire, the letter calls on the U.S. to pressure Israel to address violence in the West Bank. This appeal coincides with pro-Palestinian demonstrations aiming to influence the Biden administration and Democratic lawmakers. The lawmakers also specifically request Biden to ensure that any U.S.-provided rifles to Israel are not used by civilians in the West Bank.
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In summary, the letter from Booker and Goldman urges President Biden to maintain pressure on Israel regarding West Bank violence, emphasizing the importance of addressing settler violence to advance a two-state solution and regional peace.