Over 500 Biden campaign staffers urge White House to do more to support Palestinians
A group of more than 500 former Biden campaign and Democratic Party staffers are calling on the White House to do more to support Palestinians and hold the Israeli government accountable for what they say are human rights violations, following the 11 days of violence Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.
In a letter to President Biden published Monday, the staffers praised the administration for brokering a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, but demanded that the White House “hold Israel accountable for its actions.”
“We commend your efforts to broker a ceasefire,” the staffers wrote. “Yet, we also cannot unsee the horrific violence that unfolded in recent weeks in Israel/Palestine, and we implore you to continue using the power of your office to hold Israel accountable for its actions and lay the groundwork for justice and lasting peace.”
The group specifically called on Biden to “unequivocally condemn Israel’s killing of Palestinian civilians.”
Israel and Hamas reached a cease-fire last week, negotiated by Egypt, after more than a week of fighting that killed hundreds of Palestinians and dozens of Israelis.
The staffers called on Biden to “end the underlying conditions of occupation, blockade, and settlement expansion that led to this exceptionally destructive period in a 73-year history of dispossession and ethnic cleansing,” which they wrote will help ensure a “lasting ceasefire” and a future marked by peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians.
Specifically, they asked the White House to demand that the Israeli government end settlement expansion in the West Bank, protect Palestinians in Israel who are subject to violent attacks by mobs, and lift the blockade of Gaza, which they say “has made it an uninhabitable open-air prison.”
They also demanded that they White House call for an end to what they say are Israeli violations of international law and support Palestinians’ right to self-determination.
The Hill reached out to the White House for comment.
The group also raised concern with the U.S.-funded military equipment utilized by Israel. The staffers wrote that the equipment is used to “kill civilians, target journalists, and violently suppress protests in Israel, the West Bank, and Jerusalem.”
The letter called on Biden to investigate if Israel’s recent “assault” on Gaza violates the Leahy Law, which disallows the U.S. military from providing military assistance to foreign security forces that are engaged in human rights violations.
The group wrote that they were “horrified” by photos of Palestinian civilians in Gaza who were killed or made homeless as a result of Israeli airstrikes and “outraged” by Israel’s attempts to “forcible and illegally expel Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah.”
The letter also said the group was “shocked” by the Israeli airstrikes that flattened a building in Gaza City that housed international news organizations, including The Associated Press and Al Jazeera.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the decision to target the building, contending that Hamas assets were in the building.
The staffers also said they “remain horrified” by reports of rockets deployed by Hamas killing Israeli civilians.
The group wrote that Israel has a “penchant for disproportionate responses,” while noting the high number of casualties Palestinians suffered over the 11 days of conflict.
“Israel’s protracted refusal to consider a ceasefire also put Israelis in harm’s way, prolonging the violence of Hamas’s barrage of rockets and Israel’s air strikes — a cycle that is bound to repeat itself as long as we allow the status quo to stand, where Palestinians have no freedom and Israel controls their lives in perpetuity,” the group continued.
The letter, according to a press release, was penned by a coalition of Palestinian, Israeli, Jewish and allied former staff. The signatures on it include those who worked at the national campaign headquarters, the Democratic National Committee and in 22 states.
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