While violence often dominates media coverage from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, there are opportunities for U.S. policy to play a constructive role in reducing violence, addressing human rights concerns, and working toward a durable resolution to the conflict. Mayors from
Bethlehem and the West Bank village of Wadi Foquin will describe both the impact of Israeli settlement expansion and opportunities for Congress to intervene. Bethlehem, the heart of the Holy Land, and Wadi Foquin, a small Palestinian village, offer two examples of how the accelerating expansion of Israeli settlements impacts Palestinian daily life throughout the West Bank. Due to the close proximity of settlements, access to jobs, schools, healthcare facilities, and agricultural fields is severely restricted for Palestinians living in both of these West Bank communities. Recently, Israel’s government showed its support of settlement expansion when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the groundbreaking ceremony for new housing units in the settlement of Betar Illit. Betar Illit is one of two settlements that border Wadi Foquin. In Wadi Foquin, dynamiting for settlement construction has dried up many of the natural springs used for irrigation, and construction debris and raw sewage discharged from Betar Illit have contaminated fields, making them unsuitable for growing.
Christians in the U.S. have worked with Wadi Foquin for nine years through a partnership initiated by United Methodist congregations. The partnership supports community development projects that provide hope for families seeking a future for their children and youth.
Anton Salman, Mayor of Bethlehem
Ahmad Sokar, Mayor of Wadi Foquin
Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, Executive Director of Churches for Middle East Peace
Rev. Michael Yoshii, Co-Chair, Friends of Wadi Foquin
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