President Biden’s Trip to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories

In response to the USAToday June 20, 2022 article “Israel heads for unprecedented fifth election in three years after government collapses,” — it is critical to acknowledge the future government of Israel will not only have profound effects on the lives of the more than eight million Israelis (almost 20 percent of whom are Palestinian citizens of the state) living on the Israeli side of the green-line — but also plays a vital role in what the future will look like for Palestinians living in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt).

This month, as President Biden prepares for a trip to the Middle East, he must take the opportunity to raise humanitarian concerns facing Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. This includes ensuring that Israel is not using U.S. economic assistance to implement illegal settlement expansions and plans. Over 4,000 new settlement units were advanced by Israeli authorities in May, and more than 3,000 more could be advanced at a meeting in July.

Settlement development leads to Palestinian displacement and amounts to de facto annexation of Palestinian land — a fundamental violation of international law. Assistance from the United States intended for Israeli security should not be used for violations of international law. Our funds must be used to promote human rights, protect women and children, foster Palestinian self-determination, and create stability and peace for all peoples in the region.

I urge readers to inform themselves about the Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act (H.R. 2590). This legislation would prohibit Israel from using U.S. taxpayer dollars in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, to annex land and displace Palestinian families and communities. We must support this critical bill, so US citizens are not complicit in the forced displacement of Palestinians.

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Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon

Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon is the executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP). She has her PhD in U.S. History and a DMin in Spiritual Formation.