on the hill

DeLauro, McGovern warn of ‘major conflict’ in Mideast, call on Biden to ‘to use all diplomatic tools available’

‘Consistent and sustained U.S. diplomatic leadership is critical to preempt counterproductive unilateral actions and prevent violent escalations,’ the lawmakers urge

Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) speaks during a press conference following a caucus meeting in Washington D.C., on January 10, 2023.

High-ranking members of the House Democratic Caucus are arguing in a new letter, set to be sent to President Joe Biden, that Israel’s judicial reform proposals would compound a situation they describe as primed for a “major conflict.” 

The as-yet-unreleased letter is being circulated by top members of the House Democratic caucus, including Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), the ranking member of the House Rules Committee, as well as Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). 

The letter voices concerns about the current Israeli government, the volatile security situation in the West Bank, terrorist attacks in Israel and the deterioration of the Palestinian Authority. In response to this “grave situation,” the lawmakers say that “consistent and sustained U.S. diplomatic leadership is critical to preempt counterproductive unilateral actions and prevent violent escalations.” 

“We urge you to use all diplomatic tools available to prevent Israel’s far-right government from further damaging the nation’s democratic institutions and undermining the potential for two states for two peoples,” the letter’s authors wrote.

They frame the “fragile and combustible” situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories as potentially on the brink of “spiral[ing] into a major conflict, despite the recent steps taken” to stabilize the situation.

On the subject of judicial reform, the lawmakers claim that the changes under consideration would allow far-right members of the Israeli government to “advance a pro-annexation agenda.” They say that Biden must “make clear that the U.S. will firmly oppose any moves toward annexation that the Israeli government may pursue as a result,” and echo comments by Biden about the importance of “strong institutions,” “checks and balances,” and “an independent judiciary” to both American and Israeli democracy.

They also note that the Palestinian Authority is “teetering on financial collapse, [and] has lost much of its popular legitimacy and effective control of many northern Palestinian cities… to extremist groups.”

While noting that Israeli Defense Forces raids into Palestinian cities come “in response to increased and credible terrorist threats,” they also highlight that Palestinian civilians are “oftentimes… caught in the crossfire.” 

The lawmakers go on to condemn the increase in “horrifying attacks” by Palestinian terrorists against Israelis, as well as Palestinian leadership’s incitement of terrorism and payments to the families of terrorists.

They praise the recent joint statements by the U.S. and several European allies, as well as the United Nations Security Council statement, opposing settlement expansion proposals.

McGovern just returned from a trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories sponsored by J Street, which is promoting the letter. He has otherwise declined to comment on the trip. Jewish Insider obtained the letter through a J Street outreach email. It’s unclear how many other lawmakers have signed on so far.

Jewish Insider’s Gabby Deutch contributed reporting.

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