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Peace Not Walls

Tell your representative no on punishing Palestine

This new alert from Churches for Middle East Peace urges constituents to contact their members of congress and dissuade them from signing on to a letter to President Obama that would punish Palestinians for their successful bid to raise their status to non-member state at the UN: 

Members of Congress are still seeking to punish the Palestinians for elevating its status at the UN last month. A bi-partisan group is asking other House Members to sign a letter to President Obama asking him to close the PLO mission in DC, recall the U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem who works with the Palestinian Authority, and cut off funding to any other UN body that admits the Palestinians as a member. The letter is being circulated by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Howard Berman (D-CA), Edward Royce (R-CA), and Eliot Engel (D-NY).

The measures recommended in the letter are ill-conceived and self-defeating. The Members state that direct talks are the only way to resolve the outstanding issues between Israelis and Palestinians, but the measures they propose would undercut U.S. diplomacy and make it harder for direct talks to take place. Cutting off funding to UN agencies would deprive the U.S. of the benefits those bodies bring to U.S. national interests around the world.

Act now and tell your Member of Congress not to sign on to the Ros-Lehtinen/Berman/Royce/Engel letter

From the letter to the President:

Your Administration discouraged the Palestinian leadership from pursuing non-member state observer status at the United Nations and took a firm stance in both voting “no” and encouraging other nations to do the same, and we appreciate those efforts.

 We are deeply disappointed and upset that the Palestinian leadership rebuffed the entreaties of your Administration and the Congress and insisted on pursuing this distinctly unhelpful initiative. This Palestinian action violated both the letter and spirit of the Oslo Accords, and it opened the door for expanded Palestinian efforts to attack, isolate, and delegitimize Israel in a variety of international forums—a threat which, even if unrealized, would hang over Israel’s head during any future negotiation or any effort by the Israeli government to defend its citizens from terrorism.

Read the full letter here.

Palestine becomes UN non-member state with observer status; Israel to build 3000 new settlement units

Photo from Haaretz

In an historic vote at the United Nations Thursday, Nov. 29, exactly 65 years after passing the Partition Plan for Palestine, the General Assembly voted by a huge majority to recognize Palestine within the 1967 borders as a non-member state with observer status in the UN.  138 countries voted in favor of the resolution, 41 abstained and 9 voted against: Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, U.S., Panama, The Marshall Islands, Palau, Nauru, and Micronesia. 

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, closing his speech to the UN, asserted:

The support of the countries of the world for our endeavor is a victory for truth, freedom, justice, law and international legitimacy, and it provides tremendous support for the peace option and enhances the chances of success of the negotiations. Your support for the establishment of the State of Palestine and for its admission to the United Nations as a full member is the greatest contribution to peacemaking in the Holy Land.

The US opposed the move, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling it “unfortunate and counterproductive.”  U.S. UN envoy Susan Rice said the resolution does not establish Palestine as state, that it prejudges the outcome of negotiations, and ignores questions of security.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Proser responded to President Abbas’ speech, saying  “the UN was founded to advance the cause of peace. Today the Palestinians are turning their back on peace. Don’t let history record that today the UN helped them along on their march of folly.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office released a statement saying the world had watched a speech “full of dripping venom and false propaganda against the IDF and Israeli citizens. This is not how someone who wants peace speaks.”

An Israeli spokesman announced on Friday that Israel will build 3000 new housing units in the illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and that it will advance plans for the controversial E1 area outside Jerusalem.  If the E1 settlement plans are fully developed by Israel, it would threaten the contiguity of any future Palestinian state by virtually cutting the West Bank into northern and southern portions.

Read full Haaretz article | Read President Abbas’ full speech

Other reactions to the vote:

World weighs in on UN Palestine vote
World headlines showed a mix of emotions – but a lot of common ground on how much impact this may have on prospects for peace.

UN vote celebration in Ramallah

After Vote, Palestinians and Israel Search for the Next Step

Vatican hails UN vote, wants Jerusalem guarantees

Palestinian Legal strategy against Israel: The Real Prize is Europe AND Israeli Reaction to UN Vote: Politicians Burn Palestinian Flag, Pundits fear International Criminal Court

Supporting Palestine at the UN today is a vote for peace in the Middle East by Hanan Ashrawi