Fifty US Congressmen urged US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to prevent Israel from moving forward with the forced expulsion of 38 Palestinian families from the occupied West Bank village of al-Walaja.
This came in a joint letter led by Representatives Jan Schakowsky, David Price, Jamie Raskin, John Yarmuth, and Mark Pocan.
“The destruction and displacement of this community would run counter to the values shared by the US and Israel, while further undermining long-term Israeli security, Palestinian dignity, and prospects for peace,” wrote the lawmakers.
The members of Congress said they were concerned about the expulsion of 300 Palestinians, comprising exactly 38 families, and urged the Biden administration to work with Israel to “advance an equitable development plan that will formally authorise existing homes, provide for adequate municipal services, and allow for residential and other necessary development of the village”.
The lawmakers added there have “already been a number of demolitions in al-Walaja in recent years in areas not protected by a court injunction. If residents lose their appeal, there is a very real and proximate prospect that they may lose their homes, their community, and their way of life”.
According to the UN, al-Walaja has lost more than 70 percent of its lands since 1948, while 90 percent of the residents of the village and their descendants were forced out, many of them ending up in nearby refugee camps.
Located within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, and just a five-minute drive from southern Jerusalem, al-Walaja does not have a master plan and residents have been prevented to build new homes legally.
Villagers do not receive services from Jerusalem municipality or from Israel and are forced to rely on the Palestinian Authority for assistance.
Israel Prevents Construction in Area C
Some 60 percent of West Bank lands have been classified as “Area C” and are under full and exclusive Israeli control.
Area C is home to an estimated 180,000 Palestinians and includes the major residential and development land reserves for the entire West Bank.
Israel prohibits Palestinian construction and development on some 70 percent of Area C territory, arguing various rationales, such as being “state lands” or “firing zones.”
The UN has recently condemned “the continued demolition of Palestinian homes and the expulsion of Palestinian families in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”
The UN also called to “take the necessary steps to protect civilians, including Palestinian refugees.”
In 2021, Israel demolished or confiscated 862 Palestinian-owned homes in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem.