Dear President Obama,
We are a group of citizens expressing our concern for the security and well being of the Israelis and Palestinians.
In your Cairo speech of June 2009, you affirmed our commitment to the ideals of democracy, self-determination and human rights to the Arab and Islamic world. You emphasized then the urgent need to end the suffering of the Palestinian people, who have long endured under Israeli occupation.
People around the world, including a majority of Americans, are now well aware of the Israeli government’s aggressive policies toward the Palestinians. It is now time for our government to insist that the Israeli government live up to its obligations as a member of the United Nations.
Because both Palestine and Israel have great respect for the United States, it is up to you to provide the leadership needed to end this bitter conflict. You implied as much in your Cairo speech which inspired hope in people around the world. You may not prefer this role but it comes with the territory as they say. We are counting on you.
Sifting thru the past 20 years of negotiations and resolutions, the following four issues stand out as a consensus of world opinion for resolving the conflict.:
l. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza must end. The settlements in the West Bank are illegal .The U.N. Security Council unanimously (including the United States) approved Resolution 242 calling for Israel’s withdrawal from Arab territories. It stipulated the basic principle of international law “emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war.” At the same time it called on Arab states to recognize Israel’s right “to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats and acts of force.”
2. Every year since 1974, the United Nations General Assembly has passed a resolution called “The peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine.” It calls for the two-state solution of Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security within recognized boundaries, based on the pre-1967 borders.” Every year every country has voted in favor of this resolution with the exception of Israel and the United States and no more than five Pacific Island states. The Palestinian authority has offered to Israel a land swap to settle the issue of the major settlement blocks inside the West Bank close to the Israeli border.
3. The Israeli Barrier Wall around the West Bank must be deconstructed. In July 2004, the International Court of justice in its advisory opinion ruled that the wall is illegal. The wall would result in the annexation of parts of the West Bank, thus infringing on the rights of the Palestinians to self determination. The court concluded that Israel must stop construction and dismantle the parts that have been already built and compensate the Palestinians who suffered losses as a result of building the wall
4. A just resolution must be found to the issue of the Palestinian refugees who were forced out of their historical homeland at the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
Hence we appeal to your judicial instincts to hold Israel to its obligation under international law and to bring this sad episode in history to a peaceful and just end.
RON KRAMER, member of Kalamazoo Non-violent Opponents of War [KNOW]
HAROLD W. BEU, member of Jewish Voice for Peace
PAUL CLEMENTS, chair of Kalamazoo Interfaith Coalition for Peace and Justice
JERRY MECHTENBERG, member of Peace House of Kalamazoo
For more Kalamazoo Gazette opinion pieces and letters visit http://www.mlive.com/opinion/kalamazoo
SHADIA KANAAH, Chair of Women in Black