We Need a Change in Israel/Palestine Policy
This open letter is from the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. To sign on as an individual or as an organization, visit www.endtheoccupation.org.
Dear President Obama,
Last year, you pledged to "take an active role, and make a personal commitment to do all I can to advance the cause of [Israeli-Palestinian] peace from the start of my Administration." We are eager to work with you to fulfill this goal.
To do so, your Administration should break with past policies of unconditional support for Israel's illegal military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, and change US policy toward Israel/Palestine to support human rights, international law, and equality.
To become an honest and effective broker, your Administration
- Insist that Israel ends its siege of the Gaza Strip. Israel has deliberately impoverished the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip and caused a humanitarian catastrophe of dire proportions by prohibiting the delivery of food, medicine, fuel, and electricity. Your Administration should insist on the illegality of collective punishment and support the human rights of Palestinians such as freedom of movement as a first step towards ending Israel's occupation of the Gaza Strip.
- Demand a freeze in the construction of settlements and Israel's Wall in the West Bank. Israel's West Bank settlements, including those in East Jerusalem, are all illegal under international law, and the International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 that Israel's Wall is illegal and must be torn down. Halting this construction should be a first step toward dismantling the infrastructure of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which former President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and others have labeled "apartheid."
- Hold Israel accountable for its misuse of US weapons. In 2007, the United States and Israel agreed to increase military aid to Israel by 25% over the next decade, totaling $30 billion. During the Bush Administration, Israel killed more than 2,000 Palestinian civilians who took no part in hostilities, often with US weapons in violation of the Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Acts. Your Administration should hold Israel accountable for these violations of US law and cut off military aid as required by law, rather than increase it.
- End the US veto protecting Israel at the United Nations. The United States has used its veto power at the UN more than 40 times since 1972 to shield Israel from the consequences of its violations of human rights, UN resolutions, and international law. Your Administration should work with, not in opposition to, the international community so that human rights, UN resolutions, and international law are applied and enforced uniformly.
- Base a just peace on human rights, international law, and
equality. Such a policy is the only way to ensure the legitimate
security needs of all peoples and can only be achieved by engaging
in dialogue with all interested parties. A just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian
peace includes the complete end of Israel's military occupation
of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip; a resolution
to the Palestinian refugee issue consistent with international
law and UN resolutions, including the right of return and/or compensation;
and full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel. A policy
denying Palestinians these rights will only lead to yet another
failed "peace process".