“Last week, I visited the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar, which has just been slated for imminent demolition. If demolished, the 180 people whose families have lived on the land for decades would be completely displaced. More than half of the residents are children under the age of 15. The demolition of the village and the forced relocation of Palestinians from their own land would be in conflict with international human rights law.
“That is why, last month, I joined 75 U.S. Representatives in sending a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu urging him to cancel this demolition. Today, I reiterate that call with a new urgency, as the demolitions could take place any day.
“I was deeply moved by the courage and resilience of the residents, and the injustice of the situation they find themselves in. The residents are Bedouins, who were driven from their Negev Desert village in the 1950s and resettled on this land. In the face of enormous challenges, the villagers decided they must educate their children and, in 2009, built a school out of rubber tires and mud. In the words of Abu Khamis, Khan al-Ahmar’s headman, ‘education is a holy right of our children.’ Today, the school educates not only the children of Khan al-Ahmar, but also children from neighboring villages. If the village is demolished, so too will be the school, dealing a devastating blow to all the families.
“The issue at stake is not just the grave injustice and human toll of demolishing the village, but also the blow that a demolition would strike to the prospects of peace in the region. Khan al-Ahmar sits in occupied territory in the West Bank, between Jericho and Jerusalem, located on land considered crucial to the creation of a viable Palestinian state. The proposed demolition would clear the way for an existing Israeli settlement to expand, cut East Jerusalem off from the West Bank and deal a major blow to hopes for any two-state solution.
“My visit to the region occurred during another bout of mortars fired from Gaza and return fire from Israel, and shortly after 115 Gazans were killed (read my statement on those shootings HERE). The dire situation highlighted the urgent need for the United States to do everything in our power on two fronts.
“First, we must immediately resume U.S. humanitarian aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for work in Gaza, as detailed in a letter sent by me and 101 of my colleagues to President Trump. Second, the United States must do everything in our power to quickly help reach a two-state solution so that both Israelis and Palestinians have their own democratic states, with human rights, security, sovereignty and self-determination to build a better future for their peoples.”