25 US Democrats urge Blinken to stop Israeli E-1 West Bank construction

House Democrat lawmakers wrote to the Secretary of State: “We urge the State Department to...prevent settlement construction in E-1.”

Workers install heavy-duty security fencing around the US Capitol a day after supporters of US President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol (photo credit: REUTERS)
Workers install heavy-duty security fencing around the US Capitol a day after supporters of US President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol
(photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin) sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken “to express immense concern about the Israeli Government’s efforts approval of settlement construction in the 12 sq.km. E-1 area near Jerusalem.” Joining him were 24 House Democrats, including Andy Levin, Alan Lowenthal, Joaquin Castro, Maxine Waters and Barbara Lee.

“Settlements diminish the viability of a contiguous Palestinian state, thereby also threatening the future of a negotiated two-state solution that guarantees the civil and political rights, safety, and self-determination of both peoples,” Pocan wrote on Monday.

“The recent efforts by the Israeli Government to advance the approval to build 3,400 housing units in the highly sensitive area known as E-1 pose an irreconcilable challenge to a lasting peace solution between Israel and the Palestinians.”

According to the letter, “frozen for years, plans to build settlements in E-1 have been referred to as “doomsday settlements” because they would threaten the territorial contiguity necessary for a viable independent Palestinian state by dividing the north of the West Bank from the south, as well as the West Bank from East Jerusalem.

“E-1 is a vital corridor for Palestinian communal life, connecting Ramallah and the northern West Bank to Bethlehem and the southern West Bank,” the congressman added. “To ensure the prospects of peace, we urge the State Department to exert diplomatic pressure to prevent settlement construction in E-1.”

 THE MUGHRABI Bridge leading up to the Temple Mount compound, with the Western Wall and Dome of the Rock seen behind, in Jerusalem’s Old City.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) THE MUGHRABI Bridge leading up to the Temple Mount compound, with the Western Wall and Dome of the Rock seen behind, in Jerusalem’s Old City. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Pocan also requested an update regarding “the State Department’s steps to discourage the advancement of settlements in E-1” by December 15.

The housing plan has inched forward since 1994 despite intense opposition from the United States and Europe. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had allowed for the plan to be deposited in 2020, a move that brings the project close to the final approval stage.

Since taking office in May, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has spoken of the importance of continued settlement development and has pledged not to freeze settlement planning or building.