'Congress Must Stop Funding Apartheid,' Tlaib Says as Israel Razes West Bank Homes
"Not even one week into 2023, the new far-right apartheid government is moving to ethnically cleanse entire communities—which would displace more than 1,000 Palestinian residents, including 500 children," said the Michigan Democrat. "All with American backing, bulldozers, and bullets."
As chaos continued in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, the first Palestinian-American woman ever elected to the chamber took aim at Israel's new far-right government for its plans to forcibly displace over 1,000 Palestinians in the Masafer Yatta region of the illegally occupied West Bank.
After noting that "2022 was one of the deadliest years for Palestinians on record," U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)—an outspoken critic of violence by Israeli forces and settlers, and the United States' military aid to Israel—declared that "Congress must stop funding apartheid."
"Not even one week into 2023, the new far-right apartheid government is moving to ethnically cleanse entire communities—which would displace more than 1,000 Palestinian residents, including 500 children," Tlaib tweeted. "All with American backing, bulldozers, and bullets."
The congresswoman also shared a tweet from the U.S.-based group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which pointed to video footage of Israeli occupation forces destroying homes and other infrastructure in Masafer Yatta.
Just days after the new Israeli government is sworn in, families in Masafer Yatta are already facing more ethnic cl… https://t.co/2RcHh1x8eR— Jewish Voice for Peace (@Jewish Voice for Peace) 1672770808
In a statement Wednesday, JVP managing director Tallie Ben-Daniel also called out Israel's most far-right government in history—Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud party was again sworn in as prime minister last week after forming a controversial coalition with right-wing parties—for escalating the forced expulsion of Palestinians from Masafer Yatta.
"The horrifying actions of this new government, only five days in, prove exactly what Palestinians have been saying all along: Israel is an apartheid state, where Palestinians are treated as inferior," said Ben-Daniel. "The dangerous escalations by the new Israeli government make clear that now is the time for action. All Jewish people who believe in justice should support Palestinians' calls for freedom and speak up against this far-right, extremist new government."
\u201cIsrael regularly destroys Palestinian water infrastructure as part of its inhumane apartheid regime. This has devastating consequences for Palestinian health & the environment \ud83d\udca7\ud83c\udf0d\n\nNo aspect of life is safe under Israeli occupation\n\n#SanctionsOnIsrael #SaveMasaferYatta\u201d— Friends of Al Aqsa (@Friends of Al Aqsa) 1672851302
JVP political director Beth Miller put pressure on U.S. President Joe Biden, who said last week that "I look forward to working with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has been my friend for decades," while also claiming that "the United States will continue to support the two-state solution and to oppose policies that endanger its viability or contradict our mutual interests and values."
Miller argued that "the Biden administration has enabled and paved the way for this extremist Israeli government by ensuring total impunity for Israel's actions and actively fighting against any attempts to hold the Israeli government accountable for its human rights violations. Claims by the administration to 'oppose' escalatory policies are empty without concrete action to end U.S. complicity in Israeli apartheid."
\u201cThe Israeli authorities must immediately halt the forcible eviction of 1,000+ Palestinians from Masafer Yatta. \n\nDispossession is one of the key pillars of Israel\u2019s racist system of apartheid over Palestinians. It cannot go on. \n\n#SaveMasaferYatta\u201d— Amnesty UK (@Amnesty UK) 1672763229
Al Jazeerareported Wednesday that human rights groups and residents of Masafer Yatta said the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) "has informed Palestinian officials of their imminent plans to forcibly displace more than 1,000 Palestinian residents," which was approved last May by the Israeli High Court of Justice, despite charges of "ethnic cleansing" from critics worldwide.
According to the report:
"They may come without notice—they may isolate each village and displace them one by one, or they may carry out mass displacement at once. We don't know," Nidal Younis, head of the Masafer Yatta Village Council, told Al Jazeera.
"In the last period, especially after the court decision, they paralyzed the movement of people in this area," continued Younis. "There are villages with checkpoints at their entrances, and only residents of the area are allowed to enter and exit," he added, noting that the army has held up residents for up to 12 hours in the past."
The forcible transfer of protected residents—defined by the Geneva Convention as "civilians who find themselves in the hands of a party to the conflict of which they are not nationals" in occupied territory is classified as a war crime under international law.
The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem also made that point in a statement Monday, noting Israeli plans to expel Palestinians from their lands and homes to an "alternate location."
"Forcible transfer of protected persons in occupied territory is a war crime," said B'Tselem. "Therefore, the Israeli 'offer' of an alternative is meaningless. It is a violent threat that leaves the residents with no choice."
\u201cSince Israel confiscated makeshift tents in the community about a month ago \u2013 after demolishing the school itself some six weeks ago \u2013 the teachers have been folding the tent up after every school day in the hope of preventing its confiscation. >\u201d— B'Tselem \u05d1\u05e6\u05dc\u05dd \u0628\u062a\u0633\u064a\u0644\u0645 (@B'Tselem \u05d1\u05e6\u05dc\u05dd \u0628\u062a\u0633\u064a\u0644\u0645) 1672844025
In a clear display of international disapproval of the Israeli occupation, the day after Netanyahu took the oath of office last week, the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution asking the International Court of Justice to issue an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Israel's ongoing "occupation, settlement, and annexation" of Palestinian territories.