Biden urged to end Israel's 'expanding oppression'

More than 680 leading academics, activists, scientists urge Biden to end Israel's 'expanding oppression' of Palestinians
2 min read
17 June, 2021
Signatories to the letter include Palestinian rights groups, Israeli lawyers and former officials, US academics and Arab civil society activists.
US President Joe Biden has been criticised from within his own party for his handling of the recent Israeli onslaught on Gaza [Getty]

More than 680 global leaders in the fields of science, academia, civil society, faith and more have urged US President Joe Biden to honour his commitments toward protecting the human rights of Palestinians.

In an open letter published on Thursday, the group called on the president to put "human rights at the centre of US foreign policy".

Signatories include Palestinian NGOs, Christian Aid, Israel's former Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair, former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg, former Irish President Mary Robinson, expatriate Israeli academic Ilan Pappe and US academic Noam Chomsky, among others.

"More and more people are acknowledging that a sustained peace will not be possible until the Israeli government ends its institutionalised domination and oppression of the Palestinian people and starts being held accountable for all violations of international law committed against them. And this will not happen without US leadership," said Sandra Tamari, executive director of US-based Palestinian advocacy organisation Adalah Justice Project.

"Now is the time for Mr. Biden to show that leadership."

The letter  follows the installation of Israel's new coalition government under the leadership of far-right Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, as well as a pledge from G7 states earlier this week to "harness the power of democracy, freedom, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights to answer the biggest questions and overcome the greatest challenges".

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The groups and individuals from 75 countries called on the Biden to assure "accountability for Israeli authorities that violate Palestinian rights", apply "concerted diplomatic pressure" to end its "ever-expanding discrimination and oppression" of the Palestinians and to end  Washington's policy of maintaining the "political status quo devoid of justice and accountability".

Israel's bombing of the Gaza Strip in May, which killed more than 250 Palestinians, including 67 children, posed an early foreign policy test for Biden in his first term.

During the bombardment, the US president drew criticism from pro-Palestine activists and from within his own party for his alleged failure to end the 11-day onslaught.

Biden affirmed Israel's "right to defend itself" during the bombing campaign, while making no specific mention of the rising Palestinian death toll at the time.