Palestinians threatened by Israeli settlements call on Obama...| MENAFN.COM

Friday, 01 July 2022 10:14 GMT

Palestinians threatened by Israeli settlements call on Obama to act

(MENAFN- Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) A group of Palestinians from a small village in the West Bank urged US lawmakers and the Obama Administration on Monday to take a tougher approach to Israel as it continues to expand settlements on illegally occupied land.

In a letter drafted to President Barack Obama, and in cooperation with the office of Democratic and Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison, the 'Friends of Wadi Foquin' group, which includes Palestinians on the ground, the United Methodist Church, and other humanitarian organizations, requested late Monday that Washington "challenge the expansion of illegal settlements" by "withholding US loan guarantees" to Israel, "supporting a Security Council resolution" against the building projects, and "investigating US-based tax-exempt entities" which fund settlement activity.

Ata Manasra, Ahmad Sukar and Adel Hroub, leaders from the Community Development Project in Wadi Foquin, some 12 kilometers outside Bethlehem, told a group of Congressional staffers and members of the public at a hearing on Capitol Hill that not only is their farmland being taken away, but that sewage water from the creeping settlement of Bitar Illit is also flowing right into their crops.

"This (has been) a problem for seven years," said Sukar, who is also the mayor of the village. He added that Wadi Foquin's "products are famous," but because of the polluted water, residents of Jerusalem - where the fruits, vegetables, and honey from the valley are typically sold - no longer want to buy them.

Wadi Foquin, a village of 1,400 people, is now only 3.2 square kilometers in size, Sukar noted, but used to be 12 square kilometers prior to the establishment of Israel in 1948.

He said additional classrooms cannot be built, nor can playgrounds be added to schools.

Soome 300 olive trees - a major source of sustenance in the area - were also uprooted by Israeli forces one year ago, but even though the village fights one confiscation order after another, Sukar says that while the issue is dragged out in Israeli courts, no trees can be replanted.

"This is immoral from a spiritual standpoint," Reverend Michael Yoshii, from the California-based Buena Vista United Methodist Church, told the room.

The church has been involved in fundraising efforts for the village since 2009.

"You wouldn't stand for it here," he stressed, referring to constant land grabs by a foreign occupying power. "There needs to be intervention to stop this." Yoshii added that condemnations from the US Department of State have hardly had an effect on the Israeli government.

"There needs to be teeth behind those words," he said.

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