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Take Action: The Settlement ‘Moratorium’ Has Expired

September 27th, 2010

President Obama seems to be confused.  Help him out by signing our petition stating that negotiations must be based on human rights, international law, and UN resolutions.  Click here to sign.

Yesterday at midnight, Israel's self-declared ten-month "moratorium" on settlement building expired.

Not that the "moratorium" was meaningful in the first place. The supposed freeze on new housing starts in the occupied Palestinian West Bank literally had thousands of exceptions. Projects already underway continued to be built, and building in occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem didn't miss a beat.

As of now, the fate of recently launched Israeli-Palestinian negotiations remains unclear. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had threatened to walk away from the table if Israel didn't extend the "moratorium," but apparently will not make a decision on whether to do so prior to an Arab League meeting on October 4.

But, as our National Advocacy Director Josh Ruebner noted in an op-ed published Friday in USA Today:

"Whether the talks persist or break down, one thing is clear: Palestinians paradoxically will still be expected to negotiate statehood with Israel while Israel - with the full support of the United States in the form of $3 billion per year in military aid - continues to gobble up the territory designated for a Palestinian state."

You can read the entire op-ed by clicking here.

Rather than support official U.S. policy and international law, which both deem Israel's settlements to be illegal, the Obama Administration is arm-twisting the Palestinians to remain at the table even without a clear Israeli commitment to stop colonizing their land.

On Friday, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Jeffrey Feltman stated that “we also are making clear to the Palestinians that we do not believe that it is in their interest to walk out of the talks. We do not believe that it helps them achieve their national goals if they would walk out of the talks.”

Having convened Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without any terms of reference to human rights, international law, or UN resolutions, the Obama Administration is hardly in a position to lecture Palestinians about how best to achieve their national goals.

In fact, President Obama was downright contemptuous of UN efforts to establish a just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace on those bases, when he said last week at the UN General Assembly:

“And we can come back here next year, as we have for the last 60 years, and make long speeches about it.  We can read familiar lists of grievances.  We can table the same resolutions...”

With all due respect to President Obama, ending Israel’s illegal colonization of the Occupied Palestinian Territories is more than just part of a “familiar list of grievances”—it is the law and the obligation of the United States, as a signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention, to enforce.

Just because the Obama Administration apparently believes that it's possible to negotiate Israeli-Palestinian peace by subordinating Palestinian rights to Israel's illegal actions doesn't mean that we have to accept it as our country's policy.

Here's how you can take action to help us change U.S. policy on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to support human rights, international law, and equality:

1) Sign our petition to President Obama stating that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations must be based on human rights, international law, and UN resolutions. More than 5,000 people have already signed this petition-add your name by clicking here.

2) Read our op-ed in USA Today and then add a supportive comment on-line, or consider joining US Campaign member group WRITE! in writing supportive letters-to-the-editor. Here's how:

"Please WRITE! USA Today to support this important piece letters@usatoday.com which is sure to draw a heavy response.  Be sure to keep your letter under 250 words and include your name, address, and phone number for verification purposes only."

3) Make a tax-deductible donation to the US Campaign to support our efforts to change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights, international law, and equality.