NEWS: Sanders Statement on Developments in the West Bank

WASHINGTON, June 14 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today released the following statement regarding the ongoing state-backed settler violence, deepening occupation, and violations of U.S. and international law taking place in the West Bank:

While the world is understandably focused on the destruction unfolding in Gaza, we should not lose sight of what is happening in the West Bank – actions which are in violation of both American and international law.

Since October 7th, more than 500 Palestinians, including 100 children, have been killed in the West Bank by Israeli security forces and settlers. Israeli settlers, acting as vigilantes, have killed unarmed people and forced Palestinians off their land, burning homes and businesses. Israeli authorities do little to stop the violence and almost never seriously investigate these crimes.

In fact, the current extremist Israeli government is dedicated to deepening the occupation and undermining the prospects for two-state solution. The founding charter of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud Party says that “between the Sea and the Jordan [River] there will only be Israeli sovereignty.” Netanyahu has systematically pursued that goal, overseeing record settlement growth in the West Bank, where more than 700,000 Israelis now live in areas that the United Nations and the United States agree legally belong to Palestinians.

Today, Netanyahu is beholden to figures even more extreme than he is. National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who oversees the police, has long advocated for the forcible expulsion of Palestinians. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, responsible for administering the West Bank, has likewise expressed racist views and called for the expulsion of Palestinians. As a young man, he was arrested by Israeli authorities on terrorism charges. Since October 7th, Smotrich has denied the Palestinian Authority access to its tax revenues and imposed sweeping restrictions on Palestinian movement, creating a desperate economic crisis and deepening instability.

Let’s be clear: the right-wing, extremist Netanyahu government is not only breaking international law in Gaza, they are doing the same in the West Bank, where they are pursuing illegal annexation by force. Netanyahu should be facing serious consequences for these violations, not receiving an invitation to address a joint session of Congress.