Hundreds of ex-Biden staffers call on him to help end Israel’s ‘occupation, blockade and settlement expansion’

·3 min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

A group of more than 500 staff members from Joe Biden’s campaign and the Democratic Party have backed a letter calling on the president to protect Palestinian human rights and “lay the groundwork for justice and lasting peace”.

“The very same values that motivated us to work countless hours to elect you demand that we speak out in the aftermath of the recent explosive violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, which is inextricable from the ongoing history of occupation, blockade, and settlement expansion,” the letter says.

The letter asks the president to “unequivocally condemn Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians” and to work to “end the underlying conditions of occupation, blockade, and settlement expansion that led to this exceptionally destructive period in a 73-year history of dispossession and ethnic cleansing”.

A status quo between the US and Israel “is one that international and Israeli human rights organisations agree meets the definition of the crime of apartheid under international law,” the letter says.

The letter was co-authored by six Palestinian, Israeli and Jewish campaign organisers from Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, and supported by organisers and campaign directors in 22 states and at the Democratic National Committee.

It also follows growing calls across from the US and among progressive lawmakers urging the administration to end military support and US arms sales to Israel as well as the forced removal of Palestinian families in Jerusalem. Thousands of people across the US have joined global protests and marches – including in Dearborn, Michigan, where the president’s recent visit was met with widespread demonstrations – in solidarity with Palestinians.

Democrat US representative Rashida Tlaib also confronted the president during the visit, calling on him to do more to support Palestinian human rights and echoing her statements on the House floor and on social media in recent days as violence persisted.

During nearly two weeks of revived violence between Hamas and Israeli forces before a ceasefire was brokered last week, Israeli military strikes killed more than 200 Palestinians, including dozens of children, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Rocket fire from Hamas killed at least 12 people in Israel, including two children.

The attacks also levelled three mosques in Gaza as well as several of its hospitals and schools, stranded thousands and cut off electricity and fresh water to residents.

Palestinians and international groups have condemned Israel itself for provoking the recent violence, following police attacks at the Al-Aqsa mosque and the ongoing forced evictions of Palestinians from occupied Palestinian territory in East Jerusalem.

Israeli officials described the latest ceasefire agreement, arranged with Egyptian and US diplomats, as “quiet in exchange for quiet” and pending conditions on the ground, while Hamas called the agreement “mutual and simultaneous”.

This week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is travelling to the Middle East to “meet with Israeli leaders about our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security” and “continue our administration’s efforts to rebuild ties to, and support for, the Palestinian people and leaders, after years of neglect”, according to a statement from the president on Monday.

Mr Blinken “will engage other key partners in the region, including on the coordinated international effort to ensure immediate assistance reaches Gaza in a way that benefits the people there and not Hamas, and on reducing the risk of further conflict in the coming months,” according to the statement.

His visit will join discussions about “sustainable conditions for a ceasefire”, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

“Yes, it is holding, we’re continuing to watch it, but there’s a recognition we need to continue to discuss and have conversations with our key partners in the region,” she told reporters on Monday.

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