Biden Staffers Issue Open Letter Demanding “Accountability” For Israel As Blinken Heads To Region
At this point the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas appears to have held firm for four days, and now US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is en route to the region in hopes of solidifying the truce. His itinerary beginning Tuesday will include Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo and Amman – and through Thursday he plans to hold separate meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as Jordan’s King Abdullah and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
Just ahead of his embarking from the US on Monday the White House said that Blinken will stress to Israeli leaders “our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security.” President Biden said in a Monday morningn statement: “Following up on our quiet, intensive diplomacy to bring about a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas … Blinken will meet with Israeli leaders about our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security. He will continue our administration’s efforts to rebuild ties to, and support for, the Palestinian people and leaders, after years of neglect.”
However, there’s growing pressure within his Democratic administration to get “tougher” on Tel Aviv – especially given the huge civilian death toll in Gaza from the eleven days of fighting: “At least 248 Palestinians were killed by Israeli air strikes during this month’s conflict, including 66 children. Hamas rocket attacks killed 12 people in Israel, including one child; Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system blocked many salvos,” France24 tallies.
Following last week’s revelation that Biden had approved the sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel just ahead of this month’s outbreak of hostilities, there’s been anger and disunity within Democrat Congressional ranks, particularly by progressives including ‘the Squad’.
But it should have come with little surprise given official US policy and actions have long appeared to be a “blank check” approach to Israel across administrations stretching back decades. The some $3.8 billion in annual foreign military aid given to the Jewish state doesn’t appear to come with any strings attached in terms of human rights.
And now increasing numbers of influential Democrat voices, including many who helped get Biden into office, have issued an open letter demanding accountability, as The Guardian details:
More than 500 Biden campaign alumni and Democratic staffers have signed an open letter calling for the president to do more to protect Palestinians and hold Israel accountable for its actions in and over Gaza, where a ceasefire currently holds.
The staffers and former staffers write that they “commend [Biden’s] efforts to broker a ceasefire. 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.”
…We should note that we struggle to see in what ways he’s “used his power” at all to hold Israel accountable.
Further the letter emphasized that a “power imbalance” exists, which the authors said should naturally result on more US pressure on Israel to reign in its devastating civilian casualties during Gaza airstrikes, not less.
Over 500 former Biden and Democratic Party staffers signed an open letter urging Biden to do more to protect Palestinians and “hold Israel accountable for its actions” — including asking it to “lift the blockade of Gaza.” https://t.co/S3kEhxI2GY
— Axios (@axios) May 24, 2021
Here’s more from the open letter:
The very same values that motivated us to work countless hours to elect you demand that we speak out… we remain horrified by the images of Palestinian civilians in Gaza killed or made homeless by Israeli airstrikes. We are outraged by Israel’s efforts to forcibly and illegally expel Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah. We are shocked by Israel’s destruction of a building housing international news organizations. We remain horrified by reports of Hamas rockets killing Israeli civilians.
While Israelis had to spend nights hiding in bomb shelters, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip had nowhere to hide. It is critical to acknowledge this power imbalance — that Israel’s highly-advanced military occupies the West Bank and East Jerusalem and blockades the Gaza Strip, creating an uninhabitable open-air prison.
Blinken’s trip is unlikely to produce this desired “accountability” but appears an exercise perhaps in “saving face” with regional allies like Jordan and Egypt while appearing to be “doing something” before the increasingly skeptical Democratic progressives back home, and then there’s also the task of seeking to better the current horribly deteriorated relations with the Palestinian Authority.
Mon, 05/24/2021 – 20:50