Questions that must be asked

Senate confirmation hearings for the current Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, were held on Thursday, February 16th at 10am before the twenty-one members (ten Democrats, eleven Republicans) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC).  In addition to the hearings themselves, Senators can also submit questions for the record and ask for written responses post hearing. Each SFRC Senator gets a private meeting with the Ambassador-designate, so they have the opportunity to ask questions privately.

We asked you to press your Senators to raise your questions to Mr. Friedman by sending them email or just tweeting or retweeting the questions.  Members of the human rights community in Israel, Palestine, and the U.S. submitted the following for you to draw upon:

HUMAN RIGHTS

“During one of the GOP debates, the President emphasized that he would be neutral in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. How does Mr. Friedman plan to ensure basic human rights for Palestinians, and specifically on the right to movement?”  
— George Zeidan, Co-Founder of Right to Movement, Palestine
“Would the US treat its Jewish people the same way Israel treats it Arab minority? Would the US treat its Jewish people the same way Israel treats the Palestinians under its occupation?”
— Amos Gvirtz, Philosopher and author of Don't Say We Did Not Know
“What he will do to open the blockade and facilitate life in Gaza especially electricity and open borders?”
— Khaled Nasrallah, part of the family whom the late American Rachel Corrie sought to protect when she was killed as she stood before the Israeli Army bulldozer that would destroy their home
“Has Mr. Friedman been informed of Israeli settler attacks against their Palestinian neighbors in the West Bank? Does he know the extent of this phenomenon? Its characteristics? What is Mr. Friedman’s position about this?”
— Daphne Banai, Sylvia Piterman, Nura Resh, Tami Shellef (MachsomWatch Volunteers)
“What is Mr. Friedman’s position on human rights organizations in Israel, especially those who stand up for Palestinian human rights?”
— Daphne Banai, Sylvia Piterman, Nura Resh, Tami Shellef (MachsomWatch Volunteers)
“When Palestinian homes are demolished, Palestinian women and children are left completely homeless, with no compensation or emergency shelters. What do you think about this?”
— Fatma Nawaja, Chair of the Rural Women’s Association of the South Hebron Hills
Will you visit Palestinian villages that directly experience the negative impacts of settlements and settlement expansion, and speak with the residents?
— Fatma Nawaja, Chair of the Rural Women’s Association of the South Hebron Hills

PRIVATE PROPERTY

“What is it called when a person appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it?
By percentage, approximately how much of the Palestinian land in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem is owned by Palestinians?
Would the so called “Formalization Law”, passed by the Israeli Knesset on Feb. 6, 2017, be considered theft if it was applied to land in the United States?
What is your view of the ‘Formalization Law’ and will the United States petition for its withdrawal and submit amicus briefs to that effect when it is brought before the High Court of Israel?”
— Donna Baranski-Walker, Executive Director, Rebuilding Alliance

SETTLEMENT EXPANSION: THEFT OF PALESTINIAN LAND, DEMOLITION OF PALESTINIAN COMMUNITIES

“As a Palestinian runner, I have been training in Al Makhror Valley South West of Bethlehem, a wonderful trail with amazing landscape, one of the few places for us Palestinians to seek moving freely. The Israeli government has been planning for a while to confiscate the land to continue building Har Gilo settlement. How would the US embassy whether in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem help to stop any illegal intervene to stop any illegal move by the Israeli government?”
— George Zeidan, Co-Founder of Right to Movement, Palestine
“Is Mr. Friedman informed of settlement building on privately-owned Palestinian land? Does he know the extent of it? Does he know about the new Palestinian land-grab law which has been approved in the Knesset a few days ago? The law allows Israel to expropriate private Palestinian land in the West Bank where Israeli settlements or outposts have been built or will be built in the future. It denies the Palestinian owners the right to claim the land or take possession of it “until there is a diplomatic resolution of the status of the territories.” What is Mr. Friedman’s position about settlers’ land-grab from Palestinians?”
— Daphne Banai, Sylvia Piterman, Nura Resh, Tami Shellef (MachsomWatch Volunteers)
“What is Mr. Friedman’s position regarding new settlements in the Palestinian Jordan Valley that have not even been authorized by the Israeli government itself- i.e. near Giv’at Sal’it settlement in October 2016 and in the Umm Zuka Nature Reserve in December 2016.”
— Daphne Banai, Sylvia Piterman, Nura Resh, Tami Shellef (MachsomWatch Volunteers)
It has been reported that you have funded Israeli settlements in the Occupied West Bank, which goes against US foreign policy. What is your justification for that?
— Suheil Khoury, Director, Dr. Hanna Nasir, Mr. Zahi Khoury, Mrs. Rima Tarazi and Mrs. Samia Khoury of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music

ZONING AND PLANNING RIGHTS

“Why has the Israeli Civil Administration zoned only 1 percent of land in the Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank (over 60 percent of the West Bank) for Palestinian development, while zoning the rest for Jewish-only use and development?”
— Donna Baranski-Walker, Rebuilding Alliance

AMERICAN INVESTMENT AND PALESTINIAN JOBS

According to the World Bank, the Unemployment Rate in the West Bank has reached 27% and in Gaza, unemployment is at 42%, with youth unemployment is at 58%, among the highest in the world. What programs would you initiate to stimulate American investment and stimulate Palestinian job growth?
— Donna Baranski-Walker, Rebuilding Alliance

EQUAL RIGHTS

“Does Mr. Friedman approve of the glaring inequality in building rights in the West Bank which leads to widespread demolition of Palestinian homes and property, built on their private land?”
— Daphne Banai, Sylvia Piterman, Nura Resh, Tami Shellef (MachsomWatch Volunteers)
“Does Mr. Friedman approve of the tremendous inequality in water distribution in the Palestinian Jordan valley - e.g. a settler in Ro’i settlement receives 431 liters a day while the residents of the neighboring Palestinian Al Hadidiya village receive no water?”
— Daphne Banai, Sylvia Piterman, Nura Resh, Tami Shellef (MachsomWatch Volunteers)
“Is Mr. Friedman aware of the dismal situation of Palestinian employment in the Occupied Territories? Of the sky-high unemployment rate? Of the population’s dependence on work in Israel, and therefore its dependence on Israeli work permits?”
— Daphne Banai, Sylvia Piterman, Nura Resh, Tami Shellef (MachsomWatch Volunteers)
“Is Mr. Friedman aware of the Israeli practice of imposing restrictions on Palestinians who seek work in Israel, based falsely on security reasons, and the heavy pressure on these permit-seekers exerted by Israeli authorities in order to coerce them to collaborate with the Israeli security services - against their own interests?”
— Daphne Banai, Sylvia Piterman, Nura Resh, Tami Shellef (MachsomWatch Volunteers)
In the West Bank, particularly in Area C, the standard of living is vastly different for Palestinian women and women living in Israeli settlements. Why is this?
— Fatma Nawaja, Chair of the Rural Women’s Association of the South Hebron Hills

THE US EMBASSY

“The moving of the U.S Embassy to Jerusalem will clearly end the peace process that the U.S has been sponsoring for more than 25 years now. Why is it the interest of the U.S to do so now?”
— Suheil Khoury, Director, Dr. Hanna Nasir, Mr. Zahi Khoury, Mrs. Rima Tarazi and Mrs. Samia Khoury of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music
“What is Mr. Friedman’s position on moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem?”
— Daphne Banai, Sylvia Piterman, Nura Resh, Tami Shellef (MachsomWatch Volunteers)

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

“Do your personal donations to charities that support settlements and the IDF and other Israeli entities cause a clear conflict of interest?”
— Suheil Khoury, Director, Dr. Hanna Nasir, Mr. Zahi Khoury, Mrs. Rima Tarazi and Mrs. Samia Khoury of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music

INTERNATIONAL LAW

“How can you support the building and expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank knowing that they are violating the international law as expressed clearly at the UN Security Council?”
— Suheil Khoury, Director, Dr. Hanna Nasir, Mr. Zahi Khoury, Mrs. Rima Tarazi and Mrs. Samia Khoury of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music
“The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 prohibits countries from moving population into territories occupied in war. The United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Court of Justice and many states have all affirmed that the Fourth Geneva Convention does apply to the Palestinian Occupied Territories (the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip) and that Israeli settlements are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. What is Mr. Friedman’s position on the Fourth Geneva Convention and Israel’s current situation in the territories occupied in June 1967?”
— Daphne Banai, Sylvia Piterman, Nura Resh, Tami Shellef (MachsomWatch Volunteers)
“Should the USA deal with countries that violate international law and UN resolutions by the same standards, or will it turn a blind eye to the violations of some countries?”
— Suheil Khoury, Director, Dr. Hanna Nasir, Mr. Zahi Khoury, Mrs. Rima Tarazi and Mrs. Samia Khoury of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music

TWO STATE SOLUTION

“What is Mr. Friedman’s position on the issue of two states for two peoples? And what is his position about a bi-national state?”
— Daphne Banai, Sylvia Piterman, Nura Resh, Tami Shellef (MachsomWatch Volunteers)
“In the past your declared that the State Department is full of anti-Semites. Specifically you said, ‘the State Department has been anti-Semitic and anti-Israel for the past 70 years.’ Could you elaborate on this?”
— Suheil Khoury, Director, Dr. Hanna Nasir, Mr. Zahi Khoury, Mrs. Rima Tarazi and Mrs. Samia Khoury of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music

To add your questions to this list, please email them to contact@RebuildingAlliance.org.