Activists to Obama: demand Israel lift Gaza siege

From the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Dec. 28:

Dear President-Elect Obama,

Congratulations on your historic election as the next President of the United States.

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 U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine to support human rights, international law, and equality.

We agree with Aaron David Miller, a 25-year State Department Middle East negotiator and adviser on Arab-Israeli affairs, who wrote that “For far too long, many American officials involved in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, myself included, have acted as Israel’s attorney, catering and coordinating with the Israelis at the expense of successful peace negotiations.”

To become an honest and effective broker, your Administration should:

* 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 completely 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 U.S. 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 innocent Palestinian civilians who took no part in hostilities, oftentimes with U.S. weapons in violation of the Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Acts. Your Administration should hold Israel accountable for these violations of U.S. law and cut off military aid as required by law, rather than increase it.

* End the U.S. 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 dialog 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 internationally-guaranteed rights will only lead to yet another failed “peace process”.

Signed by,

1. African American Islamic Institute
2. American Jews for a Just Peace
3. Americans for a Just Peace in the Middle East
4. Black Voices for Peace
5. Code Pink: Women for Peace
6. Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
7. Council for the National Interest
8. Doctors for Global Health
9. Episcopal Peace Fellowship
10. Friends of Sabeel North America
11. Global Exchange
12. Interfaith Peace-Builders
13. Middle East Children’s Alliance
14. Middle East Peace Fellowship
15. Middle East Research and Information Project
16. Muslim Student Association West
17. National Hip Hop Political Convention
18. National Lawyers Guild
19. Nonviolence International
20. Peace Action
21. Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
22. Progressive Democrats of America
23. Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East
24. United for Peace and Justice
25. US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
26. War Resisters League
27. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom—U.S. Section

For more signatories, or to sign on, click here.

See our last posts on Israel/Palestine and Barack Obama.