Congress should heed the call from Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) and oppose Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies toward the Palestinians [“Congress cannot afford to look the other way on Israel,” op-ed, April 11]. From 1968 to 1971, I was a U.S. vice consul in Jerusalem. Then-Prime Minister Golda Meir and other Israeli leaders were ambivalent about the West Bank. My senior colleagues and I urged the U.S. government to oppose tentative Israeli efforts to establish Jewish settlements in the West Bank and a greatly expanded East Jerusalem. Unfortunately, our advice was unheeded.
Since then, successive U.S. administrations have sent Israel mixed messages. U.S. administrations cautioned that settlements “undermined chances for peace,” but U.S. leaders did little to indicate they meant it. Congress generally looked the other way. It is good that two members of Congress have spoken out clearly against Mr. Netanyahu’s actions. We should remember, however, that while Likud prime ministers have been especially aggressive toward the Palestinians, settlements were also begun and continued under Labor governments.
Kenneth Longmyer, Falls Church
Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Rep. Gerald E. Connelly claimed that the policies of the pending right-leaning government in Israel “undermine basic Palestinian human rights.” The Israeli government guarantees the basic human rights of all its citizens, including its Arab Palestinian citizens, and to the extent practical to the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
Israel is not “allowing the forcible removal of Arabs from their homes” or “sanctioning violence against Palestinians.” Israel demolishes the homes of Arab terrorists, a policy tested in Israeli courts. Neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor the potential coalition partners advocate lawless violence against Arabs. Rather, they advocate measures to protect Israel that sometimes require the army and the use of force.
Mr. Van Hollen and Mr. Connelly accuse Mr. Netanyahu of ruining the hope for a two-state solution without addressing any of the complexities that truly obstruct the two-state solution, namely Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
We should wish Mr. Netanyahu and the Trump administration continued success for taking bold steps to support Israel’s security and sovereignty, recognize reality and empower the Sunni states willing to end the conflict with Israel.
Asher Weinberg, Silver Spring