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RELEASE: Khanna, Cohen, Eshoo Lead Letter Urging Administration to Oppose the Displacement of Palestinian Families and Ensure U.S. Equipment is Not Used in West Bank Home Demolitions

March 16, 2020
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Reps. Khanna, Eshoo, and Cohen penned a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with more than 60 Members of Congress urging the Trump administration to take immediate action to oppose the Israeli government’s acceleration of home demolitions and displacement of Palestinian communities in the West Bank.  Writing to Secretary Pompeo, the letter requests the State Department to examine Israeli compliance with the requirements applied by the Arms Export Control Act in order to ensure that U.S.-supplied equipment is not being used to destroy Palestinian homes. The signers note that the United States “should work to prevent unlawful home demolitions and the forcible transfer of civilians everywhere in the world and prevent the use of U.S.-origin equipment in this destructive practice.”

“U.S.-supplied military equipment to Israel should only be used for legitimate self-defense against the very real security threats Israel faces,” said Rep. Khanna. “Such military equipment should not be used to turn Palestinian homes into rubble, displace families, and tear apart communities. I look forward to the State Department providing the information necessary to ensure that U.S.-supplied military equipment in the West Bank is not being used in this destructive practice.” 

Co-Signers of the letter are: Anna Eshoo (CA-18), Steve Cohen (TN-9), Karen Bass (CA-37), Don Beyer (VA-8), Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Julia Brownley (CA-26), André Carson (IN-7), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Judy Chu (CA-27), Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11), Danny K. Davis (IL-7), Peter DeFazio (OR-4), Rose DeLauro (CT-3), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Bill Foster (IL-11), Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), John Garamendi (CA-03), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Al Green (TX-09), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Henry C. ”Hank" Johnson (GA-04), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Daniel T. Kildee (MI-05), Ron Kind (WI-03), Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Andy Levin (MI-09), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Andy Lowenthal (CA-47), Betty McCollum (MN-04), A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), David Price (NC-04), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Bobby Rush (IL-01), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), José E. Serrano (NY-15), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Lori Trahan (MA-03), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Peter J. Visclosky (IN-01), Maxine Waters (CA-43), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ- 12), Peter Welch (VT-At Large), John Yarmuth (KY-03)

Endorsing Groups: J Street, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), and Win Without War

The full text of the letter is embedded below and a PDF copy is available here.

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The Honorable Michael Pompeo

Secretary of State

US Department of State

2201 C Street NW

Washington DC 20230

 

March 16, 2020

Dear Mr. Secretary,

We write with concerns over the ongoing home demolitions and forcible transfer of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, including the recent demolitions in Wadi al-Hummus and other communities in East Jerusalem. We urge you to press the Israeli government to prevent more families from being forcibly transferred and having their homes destroyed.  

The Israeli government recently accelerated the rate of home demolitions. In the West Bank, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) recorded a 45% increase in the demolitions of homes and other civilian structures in 2019 compared to 2018 [1].

As supporters of the U.S.-Israel special relationship and in light of the long-standing use of U.S.-origin and supplied equipment by Israeli security forces, we specifically request an examination of Israeli compliance with the requirements applied to recipients of U.S.-origin defense articles pursuant to the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 (AECA) as amended [22 U.S.C. 2751, et. seq.].  We also request a determination as to whether a report to Congress on this issue is required by section 3(c)(2) of AECA [22 U.S.C. 2753].

The United States should work to prevent unlawful home demolitions and the forcible transfer of civilians everywhere in the world and prevent the use of U.S.-origin equipment in this destructive practice. The faithful implementation of the AECA is one important oversight tool for ensuring that U.S.-origin defense articles and other items recipient countries purchase with foreign military financing are not used for such purposes outside the scope of “legitimate self-defense.”

The AECA narrowly conditions the use of transferred U.S.-origin defense articles and other items purchased with foreign military financing “solely” for the following purposes: internal security, “legitimate self-defense,” and other narrow circumstances.

Under section 3(c)(2) of the AECA, the President must report to Congress “promptly upon the receipt of information” that a recipient of U.S.-origin defense articles may have used such articles for purposes not authorized by section 4 of the AECA if a substantial violation of such an agreement may have occurred.

Given the information above, we request answers to the following inquiries:

1. Is the demolition of civilian homes an authorized purpose for the use of U.S.-origin and supplied defense articles or other items purchased by the Israeli government with foreign military financing?

2. Have any U.S.-origin defense articles or other items purchased by the Israeli government with foreign military financing subject to the AECA or any other U.S. law or regulation been used by Israel to conduct home demolitions?

3. Are there any restrictions on U.S.–origin defense articles or other items purchased by the Israeli government with foreign military financing that would prohibit their use in home demolitions?

4. Under what, if any, circumstances would the administration provide a notification to Congress, under section 3(c)(2) of the AECA, of the use of U.S.-origin defense articles or any other items purchased with foreign military financing in home demolitions?  

5. What criteria does the administration use in evaluating claims regarding self-defense made by recipients of U.S.-origin defense articles or other items purchased with foreign military financing?

6. According to news reports [4], the Israeli military used a Caterpillar D9 bulldozer in the Wadi al-Hummus demolitions. Was this and/or similar bulldozers or tractors purchased using FMF?  If so, were these items subject to end User Agreements?  If so, what is the full scope of restrictions on their use which is included in such End User Agreements, Letters of Offer, or other forms of documentation accompanying these transfers?

7. What steps has the United States taken, if any, to communicate its concerns about the legal, political, and human implications of Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes in the neighborhood of Wadi al-Hummus and other communities throughout the West Bank?

We look forward to your response to these questions by April 30, 2020, and also urge you to take immediate action to press the Israeli government to prevent more home demolitions, and request that you provide Congress with the information necessary for proper oversight of the use of U.S.-defense articles and other items purchased with foreign military financing for use in the West Bank.


Sincerely, 

Rep. Ro Khanna, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, Rep. Steve Cohen

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Karen Bass (CA-37), Don Beyer (VA-8), Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Julia Brownley (CA-26), André Carson (IN-7), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Judy Chu (CA-27), Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11), Danny K. Davis (IL-7), Peter DeFazio (OR-4), Rose DeLauro (CT-3), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Bill Foster (IL-11), Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), John Garamendi (CA-03), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Al Green (TX-09), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Henry C. ”Hank" Johnson (GA-04), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Daniel T. Kildee (MI-05), Ron Kind (WI-03), Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Andy Levin (MI-09), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Betty McCollum (MN-04), A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), David Price (NC-04), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Bobby Rush (IL-01), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), José E. Serrano (NY-15), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Lori Trahan (MA-03), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Peter J. Visclosky (IN-01), Maxine Waters (CA-43), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ- 12), Peter Welch (VT-At Large), John Yarmuth (KY-03)