Palestine Legislative Update (February 2015)

We want our lawmakers to understand that:

There is nothing mutually exclusive about (1) a revived Israeli/Palestinian negotiation process and (2) an appeal by either of the parties to established world bodies when seeking protection from violations of International Humanitarian Law. 

• The fact that actionable grievances by Palestinians are finding a sympathetic hearing in various organs of the UN, the ICC, the ICJ, and human rights organizations of global standing is not a function of anti-Semitism or anti-Americanism; it is directly related to the occupation and settlement of territories conquered in war and rightly belonging to subjugated people. Congress is wrong to have never criticized these settlements.

• There is a growing and stark contrast between world public opinion (outside North America and Israel) and continued Congressional enabling of Israel’s military operations in the occupied territories.

• Americans – especially younger Americans and those constituting the “base” of the Democratic party – are taking an increasingly critical look at Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and questioning the assumption that Israel can do no wrong.

We specifically ask that members of Massachusetts congressional delegation:

• Do not sponsor, co-sponsor or endorse measures that seek to punish the Palestinian Authority for seeking the protection of the ICC, or that circumvent or abridge US Presidential discretion in applying the sanctions specified in December’s “Cromnibus” spending bill.

• Do not prejudge the UNHRC Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Gaza Conflict, criticizing its findings without having read any part of the report.

• Support U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s separate inquiry into Israeli attacks on U.N. facilities during last summer’s Gaza war.

• Express concern for the ongoing humanitarian costs of the seven-year, Israeli-imposed blockade on Gaza, and call on the US State Department to examine the efficacy of the current “Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism” that has been blamed for facilitating, rather than alleviating, the siege.

• Speak out in opposition to further Israeli settlement building in the West Bank or East Jerusalem, which as the State Department recognizes “fly in the face of the stated goal of achieving a two-state solution.”

Encourage our State Department to vigorously investigate:

— Incidents of settler violence in the West Bank (of the sort involving US diplomatic guards visiting Turmus Ayya, but including the continuous attacks on Palestinian persons and property);

— IDF conduct with particular reference to “Operation Brother’s Keeper” and “Operation Protective Edge” (Israel’s 2014 actions in the West Bank and Gaza respectively) for possible violations of

• the “Leahy Amendment” (FAA §620M, 2014 Omnibus §8057),
• FAA §502b (prohibiting arms to any country “which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights”), and of the
• U.S. Arms Export Control Act §2754.

We need leadership in Congress that will:

• Speak out in opposition to further Israeli settlement building in the West Bank or East Jerusalem, which as the State Department recognizes “fly in the face of the stated goal of achieving a two-state solution.”

• Advocate not just for delivering aid to Gaza, but also for lifting Israel’s air, land, and sea closure of Gaza. At a minimum, we call upon her to support President Obama’s recognition that a sustainable ceasefire is one “that allows Palestinians in Gaza to lead normal lives.” This is the only way to establish a long-lasting calm for Gazans and Israelis alike.

Congressional Resolutions:

• Not support Congressional resolutions (or letters) calling for punitive action against the Palestinians in the event that Palestine (a) introduces a resolution before the UNSC or UNGA that sets a date for the end of the Israeli occupation or (b) accedes to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

• Not support Congressional resolutions (or letters) that condemn or prejudge ongoing investigations by human rights NGOs or UN bodies into Israeli military actions during Operation Protective Edge, including the investigation by (a) the UNHRC and (b) the UN Board of Inquiry established by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon into incidents in which death or injuries occurred at UNRWA schools or weapons were found to be present there.