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A Petition for a Just Peace in Israel/Palestine

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The Israeli and Palestinian people are our friends. We refuse to be the enemies of either, and we refuse to silently watch the possibility for peace repeatedly falter under shortsighted and undemocratic policies that subjugate one people to the other. We value peace, freedom, and equality and believe that US foreign policy and grants of foreign aid are best guided by these democratic principles. Our deepest moral interests are not well-served when, as a nation, we lend support to governments that oppress indige­nous peoples, discriminate based on ethnicity and/or religion, deny workers’ rights, violate international law, or infringe upon any people’s life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our support and tax dollars should not flow to those whose actions are inconsis­tent with these principles.

Given the unresolved conflict in Israel/Palestine, we are particularly concerned with our nation’s history of support for the State of Israel. As discussed below, we urge withdrawing financial/military support until there exists mutual recognition of each other’s sover­eign right to exist in peace and security consistent with International law and the princi­ples of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. The ongoing strife predate the United Nations partition plan of 1947.[1] However, the partition remains a momentous event.[2] The vast majority of the Jewish people living in pre-1948 Palestine (territory west of the Jordan River that had been part of Mandatory Palestine) had emigrated there during the previous 25 years.[3] At the time of the partition they owned less than 7% of the land, and represented one-third of the total population of Palestine.[4] However, the partition plan allocated approximately 56% of pre-1948 Palestine for a Jewish State.[5] The leadership of the Jewish Agency, which since its establishment in 1929 had been largely responsible for facilitating the immigration and settlement of European Jews in Mandatory Palestine, accepted the U.N. partition plan.[6] The Palestinian Arabs and the Arab States did not accept the plan on the grounds that it violated the provisions of the United Nations Charter, which granted people the right to decide their own destiny.[7] Armed conflict between Jewish militias and Palestinian Arabs escalated.[8] On May 14, 1948, Britain relinquished its Mandate over Palestine, disengaged its forces, and the Jewish Agency proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel on the territory allotted by the partition plan.[9] Neighboring Arab armies entered the territory to support the Palestinian Arabs.[10] The Israeli forces defeated the Arab forces and in the process seized more Palestinian land.[11] By the end of the war in 1949, Israel controlled 77% of Palestine – all sectors except the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.[12] During these events more than half of Palestine’s native population were uprooted, 531 villages destroyed, and eleven urban neighborhoods emptied of their inhabitants.[13] These actions resulted in more than 700,000 Palestinian refugees.[14] The Palestinians mourn these events, associated with the birth of the State of Israel, as the “Al Naqba” (the catastrophe). This tragedy is the source of continued conflict, human suffering and death.

The Occupation. Since 1967, Israel has usurped additional portions of Palestinian land and has maintained a military occupation of the West Bank and control of Gaza.[15] These geographical remnants, the remaining 22% of pre-1948 Palestine, are internationally acknowledged as the State of Palestine.[16] However, in contravention of international law, i.e., that no state may acquire territory by force, the State of Israel has permitted settler outposts and has built city settlements within the West Bank.[17] In 2011, Israeli settlement population within the West Bank and East Jerusalem was estimated at over 520,000.[18] The International Court of Justice in its July 9, 2004 Advisory Opinion, concluded that Israel’s building of these settlements and wall within the Occupied Palestinian Territories breached international law.[19]

U.S. Military Aid to Israel. U.S. military aid has helped transform Israel’s armed forces into one of the most technologically sophisticated militaries in the world.[20] Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II, having received through year 2013, $121 billion (current, non-inflation-adjusted dollars in bilateral assistance.)[21] This aid has helped Israel build a domestic defense industry, which ranks as one of the top 10 suppliers of arms worldwide.[22] As a nation, therefore, we are complicit in the occupation.

We have a responsibility to act. This continuing conflict is contrary to our nation’s self-interest as well as the moral and democratic values we cherish. Diplomatic efforts to help our Israeli and Palestinian friends reach a just peace fall short because the common sense element of basic fairness continues to be eclipsed by political expediency and the misguided views shared by some that all of Israel/Palestine belongs to the Jewish people. For the sake of peace, the Palestinian Authority recognizes the State of Israel and accepts a two-state solution based on the 22% of historic Palestine.[23] The ongoing occupation, the expanding Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as the opposition to a Palestinian State proclaimed by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu during the March 2015 Israeli elections demands a response. We call on our leaders to use our nation’s full diplomatic options to ensure the following:

End West Bank settlements. The Israeli settlement project, and the settler violence, home demolitions and land dispos­session it has entailed must stop.[24] We support the UN Human Rights Council’s 2013 recommendation that Israel “cease all settlement activities without preconditions” and “ immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers from the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” [25]

End the occupation; remove the wall. The settlement infrastructure including Israel’s mil­itary checkpoints, by-pass roads, and its separation wall built on Palestinian lands subject the people of the West Bank to humiliating and oppressive living condi­tions.[26] This matrix of control and subjugation must end. So too, the Israeli occupation policy of “demon­strating a presence” through intrusive home search­es, arrests, imprisonments, and indefinite detentions including that of minors must stop.[27] Israel must withdraw from the entire West Bank, including from East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley.

End the isolation of Gaza. Israel’s imprisonment and blockade of Gaza, in effect since 2007, must also end. From 2007 through June 2012, 37 Israelis were killed and 380 injured in attacks launched from Gaza, 40% of whom were civilians.[28] During this same period nearly 2,300 Palestinians were killed and 7,700 injured by Israeli forces.[29] Israel’s security concerns can be addressed without resulting in the de facto collective punishment of the Gaza residents, that for example, during the 22-day Cast Lead assault on Gaza ending January 18, 2009, killed some 1,400 Palestinians including 300 children and left thousands injured, homeless, and the already dire economy in ruins.[30] Similarly, during its eight-day assault on Gaza in November 2012, Israel air and navy strikes killed 168 Palestinians, of whom 101 are believed to be civilians, including 33 children and 13 women.[31] Israel’s 50-day military Gaza offensive initiated on July 8, 2014 killed over 2,100 Palestinians, of whom at least 70% were civilians, including over 500 children.[32] More than 11,000 were wounded and over 100,000 made homeless.[33] 73 Israelis were killed: 67 soldiers and 6 civilians, including one child and one migrant worker and 469 Israeli soldiers and 255 civilians were wounded.[34] The living situation in Gaza has become increasingly desperate.[35] 90% of the water extracted from the Gaza aquifer is unsafe for human consumption and due to over-extraction the aquifer may become unusable by 2016.[36] Unemployment exceeds 40%, and 57% of the Gaza population is food insecure.[37] Who benefits? Ending the Israeli imprisonment of Gaza and negotiating a just peace will eliminate conditions that contribute to this cycle of death and destruction.

Share Jerusalem. Regarding the City of Jerusalem, we recognize that it is sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians – all part of the history and life of that holy City. Thus a sincere peace deal must include the sharing of that great city.

Palestinian refugees. During the past 65 years, the Palestinian refugee population has grown to five million, of whom 1.5 million live in 58 refugee camps scattered through Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and the West Bank including East Jerusalem.[38] We believe that Palestinian refugees’ right of return, a result of one of the largest refugee tragedies in history, must be part of the peace deal. UN Resolution 194 recognizes this right.[39]

Mutual recognition and human rights. Believing as we do in self-determination, the people of Israel and Palestine must chart their future togeth­er. Regardless of what the peace agreement may stipulate and what boundaries might be declared, Israelis and Palestinians must recognize the other’s sover­eign right to exist in peace and security. The princi­ples of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights must be upheld.[40] In the event of a two-state solution, fair borders based upon the pre-1967 demarcation line (Green Line) must be established – with equal rights extended to Palestinians who are, or seek to become, citizens of Israel as well as to Israelis who seek to remain in and/or become citizens of Palestine.[41]

Our call to action

We call on our government, guided by the above principles, to act as an ardent and fair peace broker. If this is not possible, we ask our government to give the task to an international body, such as the United Nations, which will work with Israelis and Palestinians to reach a just peace, providing both peoples the security and freedoms they deserve and that we ourselves demand. Peace and justice must be given a chance. We encourage the use of non-violent forms of civil and economic pressure – including the tools of diplomacy, boycott, divestment and sanctions and withdrawal of U.S. military and foreign aid as a means of bringing peace and justice to the people of Israel and Palestine.

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[1]  Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall, (W.W. Norton & Company, 2001), 28

[2]  Rabbi Michael Lerner, Embracing Israel/Palestine, (Tikkun Books, 2012), 57-122; see also, Chapter II, The Elements of the Conflict, A/364, Official Records of the Second Session of the General Assembly, Supplement No. 11, United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, Report to the General Assembly, Vol. 1, September 3, 1947; see also, U.N. RES. 181, November 29, 1947, http://domino.un.org/unispal.nsf/0/7f0af2bd897689b785256c330061d253

[3]Chapter II, The Elements of the Conflict, A/364, Official Records of the Second Session of the General Assembly, Supplement No. 11, United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, Report to the General Assembly, Vol. 1, September 3, 1947, ¶¶‘s 10-13. P. 10, http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/07175DE9FA2DE563852568D3006E10F3

(The settled population of Palestine at the end of 1946 was estimated to be near 1,846,00, nearly three times the total population revealed in the census of 1922. The Jewish population increased from 83,790 in 1922 to 649,048 by the end of 1946. The Arab population was 565,258 in 1922 and 1,237,334 by the end of 1946. Thus, largely through emigration to Palestine, the Jewish population increased from 13% of the settled Palestinian population in 1922 to 33% by the end of 1946.)

[4]Id.; for land ownership statistics, see, Abraham Granott, The Land System in Palestine, (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1956), 278; see also, Sami Hadawi, Palestine: Loss of a Heritage, (San Antonio: Naylor, 1963), 18 (In 1918, the Jews, who numbered 56,000 out of a total of 700,000 owned 2% of the land, or 162,500 acres out of a total of 6,580,755 acres. During the ensuring 30 years, the Jews purchased additional land, brining their total holdings on the date of the termination of the Mandate in May 1948 to 5.67% of the total land area of the country. Viewed in terms of total land area, individual Arabs owned 3,143,695 acres or 47.79%; Jews owned 372,925 acres or 5.67%; other residents owned 35,512 acres or 0.54%; and finally state domain (registered and recorded) comprised 3,028,623 acres or 46% of which 384,779 acres in Palestine, excluding the Negeb, and 2,643,844 in the Negeb.) ; and Aida Asim Essaid, Zionism and Land Tenure in Mandate Palestine, (Routledge 2014), 8, 9.

[5]John Quigley, The Case For Palestine, An International Law Perspective, Revised and Updated (Duke University Press, 2005), 36; see also, Summary of UN General Assembly Resolution 181, BBC World News Edition, November 29, 2011, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/middle_east/2001/israel_and_the_palestinians/key_documents/1681322.stm

[6]John Quigley, The Case For Palestine, An International Law Perspective, Revised and Updated (Duke University Press, 2005), 38; see also, http://www.jafi.org.il/JewishAgency/English/About/History/

[7]The Question of Palestine and the United Nations, (U.N., 2008), 9, 10, http://unispal.un.org/pdfs/DPI2499.pdf

[8]Benny Morris, Righteous Victims (Vintage Books, 2001), 196-214; John Quigley, The Case For Palestine, An International Law Perspective, Revised and Updated (Duke University Press, 2005) 39-44, 57-65

[9]  The Question of Palestine and the United Nations, (U.N., 2008), 9, 10, http://unispal.un.org/pdfs/DPI2499.pdf

[10] Id.

[11] John Quigley, The Case For Palestine, An International Law Perspective, Revised and Updated (Duke University Press, 2005) 39-44, 57-65; see also, Ari Shavit, My Promised Land, (Spiegel & Grau, 2013), 273-333 (For an example of the displacement, dispossession and murder of Palestinians in Lydda, July 1948)

[12]John Quigley, The Case For Palestine, An International Law Perspective, Revised and Updated (Duke University Press, 2005) 89; see also, Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall, (W.W. Norton & Company, 2001), 47 (“Israel had expanded its territory from 55 percent of Mandatory Palestine allocated to it by the United Nations to 79 percent.”); see also, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1949_Armistice_Agreements

[13] Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, (One World Publications, 2008), xii-xiii.

[14] The United Nations and the Palestinian Refugees, (UNRWA, January 2007), 2, 6; http://www.unrwa.org/userfiles/2010011791015.pdf ; see also, http://www.unrwa.org/palestine-refugees; see also, Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall, (W.W. Norton & Company, 2001), 54; Rabbi Michael Lerner, Embracing Israel/Palestine, (Tikkun Books, 2012), 123-139.

[15] The Question of Palestine and the United Nations, (U.N., 2008), 17 (map, territories occupied by Israel since 1967), http://www.unrwa.org/userfiles/2010011791015.pdf;

see also, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_of_Palestine ; Oslo Process 20 Years, (PLO Negotiations Affairs Department, Sept. 12, 2013), 4
(On June 5, 1967, Israel occupied the remaining 22% of historical Palestine and imposed a system of military rule on the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Israel also occupied parts of Egypt’s Sinai and the Golan Heights of Syria. On November 22, 1967, the Security Council of the United Nations adopted resolution 242 that required the “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”). The West Bank remains occupied and the Gaza Strip remains under Israeli siege.

[17] The Humanitarian Impact of Israeli Settlement Policies, United Nations, Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian Territory, Updated, December 2012

[18] Id.

[19] Id.; see also, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_law_and_Israeli_settlements ; see also, Legal Consequence of the Construction of a Wall In the Occupied Territory, International Court of Justice, July 9, 2004 http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1671.pdf ;

see also, Benveniśtî, Eyāl (2004). The international law of occupation. Princeton University Press. p. xvii.ISBN 978-0-691-12130-7. “In its advisory opinion of July 9, 2004, on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the International Court of Justice found Israel in breach of several international law obligations by its construction of a separation barrier on West Bank territory. … The Court flatly rejects the Israeli claims concerning the inapplicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the West Bank and concerning the inapplicability of Article 49 to the Jewish settlements in the areas occupied by Israel. Neither of these claims gained serious support from the international community.”

[20]  Jeremy M. Sharp, U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel, Congressional Research Service, RL3322, April 11, 2013, p. 3, https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL33222.pdf

[21]  Id., p. 3

[22] Id., p. 3; see also, Richard F. Grimmett and Paul K. Kerr, Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2004-2011, CRS Report R42678, August 24, 2012, https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/R42678.pdf

[23] Palestine At The United Nations, A Vote For Peace and Justice, PLO, Negotiating Affairs Dept. 2012), 4, 22, http://www.nad-plo.org/userfiles/file/fact%20sheet/UN%20Booklet-WEB(1).pdf (In 1988, the Palestinian people, under President Arafat made a painful and historic compromise in accepting the establishment of a Palestinian state within a mere 22% of historic Palestine alongside the State of Israel. This historic compromise, the recognition of Israel and the acceptance of such two state solution was embodied in the Oslo Declaration of Principles under the auspices of the United States on the White House lawn in 1993.)

[24] Israeli Settler Violence in the West Bank, Fact Sheet, November 2011, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs Occupied Palestinian Territory, http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_settler_violence_FactSheet_October_2011_english.pdf ; Demolitions and Forced Displacement in the Occupied West Bank, Fact Sheet United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs Occupied Palestinian Territory, January 2012, http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_demolitions_factSheet_january_2012_english.pdf

[25] Report of the Independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (UN Human Rights Council, 22d Session, 2013), http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session19/FFM/FFMSettlements.pdf

[26] The Humanitarian Impact of the Barrier, Fact Sheet, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs Occupied Palestinian Territory, July 2013;http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_barrier_factsheet_july_2013_english.pdf

See also, The Humanitarian Impact of Israeli Settlement Policies, Fact Sheet,United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs Occupied Palestinian Territory, December 2012, http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_settlements_FactSheet_December_2012_english.pdf

See also, The Humanitarian Impact the Takeover of the Palestinian Water Springs by Israeli Settlers, Fact Sheet United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs Occupied Palestinian Territory, March 2012, http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_springs_factSheet_march_2012_english.pdf

[27] Breaking The Silence, Our Harsh Logic, Israeli Soldiers’ Testimonies From the Occupied Territories, (Metropolitan Books, 2012) 32-34, 39, 83, 138, 175 (We go into the houses of innocent people. Every day, all the time,” says one soldier. Another describes tossing stun grenades into a village in the middle of the day, a policy known as “demonstrating a presence” that, according to the soldier, is often unconnected to a specific security threat and equally routine.); http://www.btselem.org/statistics/minors_in_custody, (At the end of November 2013, 173 Palestinian minors were held in Israeli prisons as security detainees and prisoners. Another 25 Palestinian minors were held in Israel Prison Service facilities for being in Israel illegally. The IPS considers these minors – both detainees and prisoners – criminal offenders. The following figures were provided by the Israeli military and the IPS); http://www.btselem.org/administrative_detention/statistics, (At the end of November 2013, 143 Palestinian administrative detainees were held in facilities run by the Israel Prison Service).

[28] Five Years of Blockade: The Humanitarian Situation in The Gaza Strip, Fact Sheet United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs Occupied Palestinian Territory, June 2012, http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_gaza_blockade_factsheet_june_2012_english.pdf

[29]  Id.

[30] Israel/Gaza Operation ‘Cast Lead’ 22 Days of Death and Destruction (Amnesty International Publication, July 2009) 6, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/015/2009/en/8f299083-9a74-4853-860f-0563725e633a/mde150152009en.pdf

[31] Id.

[32] Gaza 2014, Findings of an independent medical fact-finding mission, Jutta Bachman, Laurel Baldwin-Ragaven, Hans Petter Hougen, Jennifer Leaning, Karen Kelly, Onder Ozakalici, Louis Reynolds, Alicia Vacas, p. 8


[33] Id.

[34] Id.

[35] The Gaza Strip: The Humanitarian Impact of Movement Restrictions on People and Goods, Fact Sheet (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs Occupied Palestinian Territory, July 2013), http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_gaza_blockade_factsheet_july_2013_english.pdf

[36] Id.

[37]  Id.

[38] http://www.unrwa.org/palestine-refugees , (When UNRWA began operations in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. Today, some 5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services. Nearly one-third of the registered Palestine refugees, more than 1/5 million individuals, live in 58 recognized Palestine refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem)

[40] The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

[41] http://www.cnn.com/2011/POLITICS/05/19/obama.israel.palestinians/
(Excerpts from President Obama’s Speech, May 19, 2011: “The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine.” “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”)


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