WASHINGTON (JTA) — More than 60 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives want the Trump administration to press Israel not to use American military equipment to demolish Palestinian homes.
In a letter sent Monday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — spearheaded by Reps. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. — the House members note recent demolitions in eastern Jerusalem and U.N. reports last year of a 45 percent increase in Israeli home demolitions. They also asked for an examination of Israeli compliance with the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, which restricts recipients of U.S. military equipment to using it for “legitimate self-defense.”
It’s not clear whether Israel currently uses American equipment in home demolitions, which Israeli officials say target illegally built units. In the past, Israel has used Caterpillar land moving equipment to demolish the homes of convicted terrorists and structures used to attack Israeli forces.
“My hope is that Israel will stop the home demolitions and will see that there are many supporters of the U.S.-Israel relationship on this letter,” Khanna told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an interview.
A number of Jewish Democrats signed the letter. In addition to Cohen, they include Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., John Yarmuth, D-Ky., and Andy Levin-D-Mich.