Earlier today, I asked you to contact your House member and ask him/her to oppose H. Res. 11, a resolution set to be voted on tomorrow (January 5th), objecting to recent action taken in the UN Security Council regarding settlements. Now, the Senate is poised to pass a similar resolution, just introduced by Senators Rubio (R-FL) and Cardin (D-MD) – and it is critical your senators hear from you on this today.
APN is a leading source of pro-Israel, pro-peace advocacy and activism. Through our Action Network, we mobilize tens of thousands of actions every year in support of peace, with actions targeting the U.S. government, Congress, Jewish organizations, the media, the Israeli embassy, and others. Join us in taking action to fight anti-peace policies and actions, and to urge elected officials to adopt policies that support the two-state solution. Join our Action Network and check this page regularly (actions are listed in chronological order, with the most recent at the top). Add your voice to the chorus of pro-Israel, pro-peace voices fighting to end the occupation and to secure a two-state solution!
Just before the New Year, the Obama Administration took pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-U.S. action in the UN Security Council. It did so by abstaining on a resolution focused on Israeli settlements – a resolution that was wholly consistent with longstanding U.S. policy (upheld by presidents from both parties), and that was consistent with language adopted previously by the UN Security Council (including under past U.S. presidents from both parties).
Now, the House is poised to pass a resolution TOMORROW – H. Res. 11 – unfairly slamming the Obama Administration’s action.
Last week, UNESCO’s Executive Board ratified a shocking resolution that refers to the Holy Basin in Jerusalem’s Old City only by its Muslim title, the Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), does not mention the Temple Mount, the way Jews refer to the site, mentions the Western Wall Plaza in quotation marks while using its Muslim name, Al-Buraq Plaza without quotation marks, and uses other inflammatory language. By so doing, UNESCO ignored the Jewish – and Christian – ties to Jerusalem.
We also applaud the actions of Mexico’s ambassador to UNESCO. We were dismayed to hear that the Mexican diplomat, Andrés Roemer, was fired for taking the unusual step of walking out of the vote because he disagreed with his government’s decision to support the resolution.
Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video statement in which he claimed that evacuating Israeli settlements from the West Bank in the context of a future Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is tantamount to “ethnic cleansing.” This statement, trivializing crimes against humanity and genocide, should outrage anyone who cares about international affairs and who cares about Israel.
Applying terminology borrowed from the darkest days of European history to a scenario in which Israeli settlements would be withdrawn to allow for a peace accord between Israelis and Palestinians, reached by the sovereign governments of both peoples, is abhorrent. It merits the US Jewish community’s rejection and repudiation.
Every U.S. President since 1967, both Republican and Democrat, has accepted that settlements would be removed as part of a peace agreement. Menachem Begin, who evacuated all of Israel’s settlements in Sinai as a part of a peace agreement, and Ariel Sharon, who unilaterally removed all the settlements from the Gaza Strip and a handful in the northern West Bank, made a sovereign decision to do so out of national security considerations. Controversial as these moves may have been at the time, they were not “ethnic cleansing.”
The policies and actions of the current Israeli government are actively fanning the flames of violence, further entrenching and expanding occupation, and killing the two-state solution. Some of the most recent and ongoing outrages are:
Expanding the settlers' hold in Hebron: The Israeli government is in the process of establishing – by stealth –the first new settlement complex (28 units, providing housing for some 100 settlers, or a 10% increase in the settler population in the area) in Hebron in more than a decade. It is doing so by taking properties seized years ago by the Israeli government for military use and handing them over to the settlers. This action directly contravenes Israeli law, which prohibits seizing lands for military needs and then using them for the purpose of settlements. It also contradicts the principle of distinction between civilians and combatants, and constitutes a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law. In addition, allocating these properties to the settlers based on the argument that they belonged to Jews before 1948 in essence constitutes implementation of a “right of return” for Jews, at the expense of protected Palestinians tenants – even as Palestinians are denied any parallel “right of return” to properties they left or were expelled from before 1948. Click here to learn more about this new Hebron development and to find out how you can take action.
The Israeli government is in the process of establishing – by stealth –the first new settlement complex (28 units, providing housing for some 100 settlers, or a 10% increase in the settler population in the area) in Hebron in more than a decade. It is doing so by taking properties seized years ago by the Israeli government for military use and handing them over to the settlers. This action directly contravenes Israeli law, which prohibits seizing lands for military needs and then using them for the purpose of settlements. It also contradicts the principle of distinction between civilians and combatants and constitutes a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law. In addition, allocating these properties to the settlers based on the argument that they belonged to Jews before 1948 in essence constitutes implementation of a “right of return” for Jews, at the expense of protected Palestinians tenants – even as Palestinians are denied any parallel “right of return” to properties they left or were expelled from before 1948.
On August 24th, State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said that if reports about what is happening in Hebron are true, “…it would represent a deeply concerning step of settlement expansions…”
At the same time, the Israeli government is moving ahead with plans to “relocate” the illegal outpost of Amona. It plans to move the settlers off the privately-owned Palestinian land where the outpost it currently located – land that after years of trying, the Government was forced to admit it could find no “legal” way to expropriate and give to the settlers – and on to a nearby plot of privately-owned Palestinian land that it has now found a pretext to seize. In short, this case involves Israel taking new land from the Palestinians for the sole benefit of settlers. And it involves Israel acting not to punish and deter settler law-breaking, but instead rewarding and incentivizing such illegal actions. And it contributes to the growth of the settlement foothold deep in the West Bank, via the direct support and collusion of the Israeli government.
On August 11th, the Director of the State Department’s Press Office, Elizabeth Trudeau, said that the State Department was “deeply concerned by reports that the Israeli Government has begun the process to take over privately owned Palestinian land to relocate the illegal Israeli outpost of Amona.”
Take Action Today!
Nearly 50 years into the occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the current Israeli government continues to exploit a wide range of tactics, laws, and regulations to take control of more Palestinian land and hand it over to the settlers. Here are just the latest examples:
- In Sussya, located in the south Hebron hills, Israel is seeking to raze Palestinian homes to make way for more settlement.
- Northeast of Ramallah, near the settlement of Ofra, Israel is working to take over more Palestinian-owned land to give to settler law-breakers from the outpost of Amona.
- South of Bethlehem, the Netanyahu government is actively seeking to seize land in order to implement an extraordinarily dangerous and destructive new settlement plan which activists have dubbed “E-2,” involving thousands of new units.
- In the heart of Hebron, the Israeli government is in the process of establishing – by stealth – a new settlement complex: 28 housing units for some 100 settlers, or a 10% increase in the settler population in the area. This is the first new settlement construction in Hebron in more than a decade. The government’s method, this time, is taking properties seized years ago by the Israeli government for military use and handing them over to the settlers – in direct contravention of Israeli law.
With actions like these, the Israeli government is telling the Palestinians that it is not interested in peace or a two-state solution. It is telling the world that it places greater value on land than on peace, that it prioritizes settlements over security, and that it is more concerned with ensuring permanent control over “Greater Israel” than in ensuring Israel’s relations and reputation with nations around the world, including the United States.
With no immediate possibility of re-starting peace talks on the horizon, it is critical that world leaders stand firm against Israeli government efforts to further expand and entrench the occupation – the very possibility of the two-state outcome hangs in the balance.
Sign our petition today (to be sent to addressees and released as an open letter). Join us in calling on the heads of state of the U.S., UK, France, and Germany -- as well as top officials in the European Commission and the UN, and other world leaders -- to individually and collectively stand up to the Netanyahu government’s plans to confiscate or transfer West Bank land for new settlement activity.
The campaign to save the Palestinian village of Sussya, which has involved extraordinary efforts by human rights activists both inside and outside Israel, has reached a decisive movement.
The Israeli government is poised to make a final decision on whether to raze the village, located in Area C on land long-coveted by settlers. International pressure succeeded in convincing the Israeli government to delay the decision, originally due in early August, until November, but the threat to destroy the village remains, as does the threat to destroy individual homes before a final decision is made November 15th.
Now is the time to take action and add your voice to those of so many other activists working to save Sussya. We know the Israeli government and leaders around the world are listening. Take action now.
Last Wednesday, the Israeli government announced plans for hundreds of new homes in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In response, the U.S. Department of State issued a sharply-worded statement pointing out how destructive these new settlement plans are.
State Department Spokesperson John Kirby said, "…this report would be the latest step in what seems to be a systematic process of land seizures, settlement expansions and legalizations of outposts that is fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution…”
He went on to state, unequivocally: “We oppose steps like these, which we believe are counterproductive to the cause of peace. In general, we’re deeply concerned about settlement construction and expansion in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.”
Click here to thank President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry for their unwavering stance opposing settlements and urge them to support action in the United Nations Security Council to advance the two-state solution.
For years right-wing critics – Israeli and American, inside and outside Congress – have maligned President Obama for supposedly failing to sufficiently defend and support Israel. In particular, they have warned that if President Obama were to allow the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to pass a resolution criticizing objectionable Israeli policies, or a resolution weighing in on the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it would be an unprecedented betrayal of Israel – a betrayal that a true friend of Israel would never consider, let alone permit.
Now, the truth is finally out – in this op-ed in the New York Times, by APN Director of Policy & Government Relations Lara Friedman. And the truth is: President Obama is the only president since 1967 who has shielded Israel 100% from critical resolutions in the UNSC.
As a true friend of Israel, it is time for President Obama to stop shielding Israel in the UNSC, just as his predecessors in the Oval Office – Republican and Democrat alike – did numerous times over the past 48 years.