Five US Congressional Representatives recently conducted a "precedent-setting and historic visit" to Israeli West Bank settlements.... The five Republican members of Congress conducted the "in-depth tour" in cooperation with the Ariel Development Fund and the Strategic Unit of the Samarian Regional Council.
The all-male delegation included Randy Forbes (Virginia), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Doug Lamborn (Colorado), John Fleming (Louisiana) and Jim Jordan (Ohio). Representative Lamborn is particularly influential as chairperson of both the Republican Israel Caucus and the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus.
During the tour the congressional representatives visited the Cross Samaria Road, the Barkan Industrial Zone, the settlement of Ariel, and participated in a formal reception in the Nablus-area settlement of Har Bracha.
Because the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has effectively crippled the Palestinian economy, some Palestinian construction workers turn to the settlements for employment. While this type of a system that turns a sector of society into underpaid workers with few options for survival is known as "structural violence," Ariel Mayor Ron Nahman calls it "coexistence."
While Israel considers its settlement enterprise legal, many members of the international community do not. Those who question the legal status of settlements point to the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids occupying powers from transferring civilians to an occupied area.
This trip comes just three months after 81 US Congressmen visited Israel on a junket funded by the American Israel Education Foundation, a supporting organization of the pro-Israeli hardliner group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).