Showing posts with label statehood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label statehood. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

PA Seeking to Become Non-Member State

The Palestinian Authority is planning on going ahead with its plan to get the United Nations to recognize Palestine as a "non-member state" on November 29, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, despite opposition from both Israel and the United States.

This vote at the General Assembly could have profound implications for the ability of Palestinians to hold Israel accountable in international courts for its violations of human rights and international law and for the imposition of additional US sanctions against both Palestinians and the United Nations.

We have several resources to help you understand these issues.

1. Listen to a recording of our conference call with Omar Dajani and Phyllis Bennis discussing the implications of Palestine becoming a "non-member state" and what this means for our organizing to change U.S. policy to support human rights, international law, and equality.

2. Read our recently updated FAQ's about Palestine UN Membership and Statehood Recognition.

3. Share the recording with your friends on Facebook and tweet to your followers on Twitter. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

US Campaign Co-chair addresses U.N. General Assembly


This morning Peter Miller, Co-chair of the US Campaign's Steering Committee, gave the following address at the United Nations General Assembly, at the invitation of the U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

Solemn Commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity With the Palestinian People

United Nations 
New York
November 29, 2011


Remarks by Peter Miller 
President, Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights
Co-Chair, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. President, Excellencies:

I am honored to speak to you today on this solemn commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. I am but one voice among many from global civil society who are deeply concerned about the plight of Palestinians resulting from Israel's policies of occupation, settlement, siege and the denial of Palestinian rights. Many civil society activists around the world have dedicated their lives seeking a just resolution to the Palestine-Israel conflict. Some have paid a huge price for their efforts. And why must civil society pay such a high price? It is because of the failure, your excellencies, of the United Nations and governments to implement international law.

As an American, I am deeply disturbed, as are many Americans, by the role the my government plays in preventing Palestinians from achieving their aspirations and their human rights. The U.S. unconditionally gives Israel $3 billion every year in military aid and ignores Israel's many systematic and continuing human rights violations. Those include the illegal use of military weapons against civilian populations and the ever  expanding Israeli settlements, the expansion of its separation wall on Palestinian lands, the treatment of its Palestinian citizens as second class human beings and the denial of the rights of Palestinian refugees. One of the challenges to the UN and the international community, if you truly are committed to upholding the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, is to confront the deeply negative role of the U.S. in perpetuating injustice and enabling Israel to continue to violate international law and destroy the possibility of realizing Palestinian aspirations.

The admission of Palestine into the UN Organization UNESCO is a great victory for the UN and the voice of people around the world. 107 countries, representing over 75% of the world's population voted to include Palestine, truly “We the Peoples of the United Nations.” Unfortunately, the Obama administration was eager to enforce archaic U.S. laws, and cut off U.S. dues to UNESCO. Also unfortunate is the fact that the Obama, and earlier U.S. administrations, have failed to uphold other U.S. laws conditioning military aid to countries, such as Israel, which use U.S. supplied weapons against civilian populations. The UN is challenged to uphold its Charter in the face of all the various anti-democratic pressures the US brings to bear, whether it is spying on UN officials, pressuring independent countries economically and politically, or threatening the UN itself with economic sanctions. The UN must defend its founding principles despite these pressures and the global community must be ready to increase economic and diplomatic support for the UN and UNESCO.

One of the great advancements of civilization has been the development of the concept of the rule of law, that human beings have universal rights, and that there should be international institutions that work to safeguard these rights, especially in times of conflict and military occupation. The principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and other laws lay out this framework. The challenge for the UN is not to develop new laws or to express new sentiments, but to implement these existing universal principles and its existing resolutions to protect Palestinian human rights. The whole concept of universal rights and protection of civilians is endangered when powerful nations can pick and chose, in defiance of international bodies and global opinion, to whom these laws apply and for whom they are ignored. The law should be universal.

So far, the UN and other established institutions have failed to implement these universal principles, and have been unable to hold the powerful accountable for their oppression of the weak. So it has become necessary for global civil society to step into the void. This is what is happening around the world, including in the United States, on behalf of Palestinian human rights. This is why there is a growing movement of boycott, divestment, and sanctions to bring non-violent pressure on the State of Israel to end its systematic violations.

The Russell Tribunal is yet another expression of global civil society responding to the failure of the UN and governments to uphold the law. One of Bertrand Russell's last accomplishments was the establishment, with French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, of the Russell Tribunal to investigate the role of the United States in the war in Vietnam. The tribunal was established as a means for civil society to bring to the light the evidence of war crimes ignored by the United States government and by other nations and international institutions. Russell declared “May this Tribunal prevent the crime of silence.”

A new Russell Tribunal on Palestine has been reconvened with three sessions to date to examine Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. The most recent session was held November of this year in South Africa, with judges including Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, emeritus judge of Spain’s Supreme Court José Antonio Martin Pallin, African-American poet Alice Walker and South African writer and activist Ronald Kasrils.  They examined the question of whether Israel is engaged in the crime of Apartheid. Israeli human rights activist Jeff Halper, director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions said,

“States, along with the United Nations, are obligated to enforce international law and human rights conventions. When they don't, as in their failure to apply to Israel and its Occupation the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, the people themselves must rise up and demand that they do. Civil society forums such as the Russell Tribunal may not carry formal authority, but they represent millions of people the world over who believe that simply leaving governments free to pursue their narrow agendas driven by power, sectarian ideology, militarism and the profits of a few is to doom us all to continued war, bloodshed and injustice.”

The Tribunal concluded that Israel does indeed engage in the crime of Apartheid:

"Israel subjects the Palestinian people to an institutionalized regime of domination amounting to apartheid as defined under international law.... The Palestinians living under colonial military rule in the occupied Palestinian territory are subject to a particularly aggravated form of apartheid. Palestinian citizens of Israel, while entitled to vote, are not part of the Jewish nation as defined by Israeli law and are therefore excluded from the benefits of Jewish nationality and subject to systematic discrimination across the broad spectrum of recognized human rights. Irrespective of such differences, the Tribunal concludes that Israel's rule over the Palestinian people, wherever they reside, collectively amounts to a single integrated regime of apartheid."

The Russell Tribunal is not the first time Israeli apartheid has been identified. In 1961 Hendrik Verwoerd, then president of South Africa and considered the architect of the system of apartheid, stated, “Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.” Both Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela have expressed concerns that Israel's behavior was similar to what they experienced under South African apartheid. Mandela remarked that:

“The UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

In 2009, the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa issued a report concluding that Israel practices both Apartheid and colonialism. In 2010, Henry Siegman, former national director of the American Jewish Congress said, "Israel has crossed the threshold from 'the only democracy in the Middle East' to the only apartheid regime in the Western world."  Now in 2011, we can add the conclusions of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.

Palestinian rights must no longer be held hostage to the domestic politics of the United States. Israel should not escape UN censure simply because it refuses to cooperate with international institutions. International law demands condemnation of Israel's violations and crucially, Your Excellencies, decisive action to reverse them. Palestinian dignity is assaulted on a daily basis. Both the Palestinian and Israeli people are diminished each passing day as you allow these Israeli policies to continue. Every day, a tree is destroyed or a home is demolished. Every day, a Bedouin village inside Israel is ground down by bulldozers or Palestinians in the West Bank are attacked by settler pogroms that turn their lives into lives of fear.  Every day, critical medicines go lacking in Gaza, and Gazans are forced to drink brackish water unfit for human consumption.

The so-called “Quartet” has failed.  But while many question whether the UN should have ever agreed to participate in such sham diplomacy, you can still play a constructive role by moving quickly to implement the necessary pre-conditions for serious and honest negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians based on the enforcement of international law. Excellencies, you must separate Israel’s legitimate security concerns from its illegitimate political agenda. The International Court of Justice ruling on the illegality of Israel's wall made just this sort of distinction: determining that Israel may build its wall on Israeli land, but Israel cannot build its wall on Palestinian land, destroying Palestinian farms and homes, and separating Palestinian villages and towns from each other. It is illegal, not simply “unhelpful,” for Israel to build settlements on Palestinian lands. Israel violates international law when it imposes collective punishment on the people of Gaza. UN-based solutions must be found to mitigate all of these issues.  The international community must demand that Israel end its assaults on Gaza that kill and injure civilians, and destroy civilian infrastructure in an endless cycle of  international development assistance repeatedly destroyed by Israel's U.S. supplied bombs and missiles and Israel's U.S. supplied Caterpillar bulldozers. All that is lacking is your will to impose solutions rooted in international law.

One of the great privileges of working within civil society for Palestinian justice is witnessing the coming together of people from many origins working together for justice. In my own small group, we have Jewish Americans, Palestinian Americans, Christians, Muslims, and secular people who recognize in each other our common humanity. This is replicated around the world. We in global civil society seek to rise above narrow national and tribal self interest and truly believe that peace is possible when our common humanity is recognized and justice is implemented. We honor the efforts of those Israelis who recognize that peace for Israel comes through justice for Palestinians, we honor the efforts of activists and UN workers from around the world, many who have risked their comfort and sometimes their lives in the name of justice. Though there are wide ranges of opinion about what the various solutions might be, we are united in the recognition of our common humanity and our dreams of living together, as equals, on this small blue planet.

Thank you.

-- END --

Friday, September 30, 2011

What is Next for Palestinian Reconciliation and the United Nations Bid?


Mouin Rabbani, an independent analyst of Palestine and Israel, shares his thoughts on the Palestinian bid for statehood in the United Nations and a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation.  View two recorded interviews he did this month below.





Mouin Rabbani  is a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies (IPS) in Washington DC.  He is an independent Middle East-based analyst specializing on Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict

He shared his initial thoughts on the UN initiative in this Palestine Studies TV video in mid-September.  He also penned short responses to the speeches by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in front of the United Natiosn General Assembly.
   
He will be in Washington, DC until October 9th and can speak at events or make media appearances. To book Rabbani, email us or call him directly at:


Thursday, September 29, 2011

New York Times' Ethan Bronner suddenly sounds like us!


The following excerpt is from an editorial on page A10 of today's edition of the New York Times. It comes under the headline "Israelis Happy at Home but Glum About Peace," and it sounds surprisingly agreeable -- given Ethan Bronner's usual point of view -- to what the US Campaign has been insisting for weeks in our efforts to mobilize grassroots opposition against the Obama Administration's obstruction of Palestinian UN membership...
Bronner
"...The sense over the past two years that President Obama was growing angry with Israel and steering American policy away from its interests subsided last week. The parts of Mr. Obama’s United Nations speech about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could have been written by any official here. It said nothing about Israeli settlements, the 1967 lines, occupation or Palestinian suffering, focusing instead on Israel’s defense needs.
Avigdor Lieberman, the hawkish foreign minister, said afterward that he would be happy to sign Mr. Obama’s speech “with both hands.”
SEE FULL ARTICLE... 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Book Review: The Statehood of Palestine: International Law in the Middle East Conflict


Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol 40, no. 4 (Summer 2011), p. 98

The Statehood of Palestine: International Law in the Middle East Conflict, by John Quigley. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. vii + 252 pages. Notes to p. 307. Bibliography to p. 319. Index to p. 326. $27.99 paper. 

Reviewed by Diana Buttu 

For years, the Palestinian Authority has clung to the idea of a “Palestinian state/dawla filastiniyya,” often repeating the slogan of a “Palestinian state on the 1967 borders,” or the “two-state solution,” as the proposed means of securing freedom for Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. On 16 May 2011, in an op-ed in the New York Times, PLO chairman Mahmud Abbas affirmed his intention to declare statehood in September 2011 and seek full admission to the UN as a member state, following the same plan as laid out by his predecessor, Yasir Arafat, in 2000.

Abbas’s announcement does not come as a surprise: for over two years, acting prime minister Salam Fayyad has been pushing his plan, titled “Ending the Occupation—Establishing the State,” while the PA has undertaken a diplomatic offensive to get states and international bodies to lend their support to the idea. The Fayyad/Abbas plan seems to be working, with over one hundred states now recognizing Palestine as a “state.” It is in this context that John Quigley’s latest book, The Statehood of Palestine: International Law in the Middle East Conflict, emerges.

The book is the most recent in a relatively new line of academic research on Palestine that aims to use the framework of law, and in particular international law, to highlight the injustices perpetrated against Palestinians by Zionist and other imperialist forces. Quigley is not a newcomer to this field, and his past titles include The Case for Palestine: An International Law Perspective (Duke, 2005) and Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice (Duke, 1990).

Divided into four parts and spanning twenty chapters, Quigley begins by tracing the Palestinian Arab quest for independence and the impact of the British Mandate system on Palestine. In the first two parts, the author methodically points out that like other Class A Mandates, “Palestine had relations with other states that required the conclusion of treaties. Palestine’s citizens had connections with other states and required for that purpose a nationality. Palestine’s status came up as an issue in a variety of ways during the time of Britain’s administration. In all of these interactions, the states of the international community dealt with Palestine as a state” (pp. 52-3). But unlike other Class A Mandates, Palestine did not gain its independence; rather, it soon fell subject to endless proposals and plans—including for trusteeship—to accommodate a Jewish minority and its nationalist aspirations at the expense of the rights of Palestinian Arab majority.

BOOK REVIEW CONTINUES HERE...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

We published in The Hill today: "Hold Israel accountable with Leahy law."

Our National Advocacy Director, Josh Ruebner, has a great op-ed today in The Hill, supporting Sen. Leahy's efforts to hold Israel accountable for its violations of U.S. weapons laws. Josh touched a raw nerve with his hard-hitting analysis. Lots of people are attacking him (but not his arguments). Check it out and leave YOUR comment!

Hold Israel accountable with Leahy law

By Josh Ruebner
August 17, 2011

Apologists for Israeli occupation and apartheid claim that advocates for holding Israel accountable for its human rights abuses of Palestinians are “singling Israel out for extra scrutiny” or “holding Israel to a higher standard than other countries.”

Ruebner
Yet, ironically, Israel’s supporters also claim that U.S. military aid to Israel is sacrosanct and, unlike every other governmental program on the chopping block these days, cannot be questioned due to the “special U.S.-Israeli relationship." Dan Carle, a spokesperson for Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), has noted correctly that you cannot have your cake and eat it too.

In response to an article in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz suggesting that the Vermont Senator will attempt to apply sanctions to certain units of the Israeli military for human rights violations, Carle explained that “the [Leahy] law applies to U.S. aid to foreign security forces around the globe and is intended to be applied consistently across the spectrum of U.S. military aid abroad. Under the law the State Department is responsible for evaluations and enforcement decisions and over the years Senator Leahy has pressed for faithful and consistent application of the law.”

The possibility of Senator Leahy consistently applying this eponymous legislation and holding Israel to the exact same standard as every other country has Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, whose office may have leaked the story in an effort to kill the initiative, in a tizzy.

The “Leahy Law,” as it is commonly known, prohibits the United States from providing any weapons or training to “any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible evidence that such unit has committed gross violations of human rights.” In the past, this law has been invoked to curtail military aid to countries as diverse as Indonesia, Colombia, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Along with other provisions in the Foreign Assistance Act, of which it is a part, and the Arms Export Control Act, it forms the basis of an across-the-board policy that is supposed to ensure that U.S. assistance does not contribute to human rights abuses.

ARTICLE CONTINUES ON THEHILL.COM...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Jewish Voice for Peace and UN Recognition of Palestinian Statehood

Jewish Voice for Peace is a coalition member of the US Campaign. Learn more here about our coalition's actions and positions on Palestinian UN membership and statehood.


From Jesse Bacon's blog at jewishvoiceforpeace.org

Joel Beinin
For a more in-depth statement by Joel Benin, a long-time JVP member who is the Donald J. Maclachlan Professor of Middle Eastern History at Stanford University, click here.

Jewish Voice for Peace supports the Palestinian people’s struggle to fulfill their aspirations and secure their internationally recognized rights to freedom, national self-determination, justice, and equality. We regard any non-violent tactic as a legitimate tool in this struggle. Palestinians have the right to freedom from Israeli occupation, justice for Palestinian refugees, and equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has affirmed that this September, at the United Nations General Assembly, it will seek a vote on international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and admission as a full member of the United Nations.

While 100 countries already recognize Palestine as a state, the question of pressing for UN membership remains controversial among Palestinians. Some support the move as historic and others believe such a vote is either purely symbolic or may sacrifice important Palestinian claims.

Jewish Voice for Peace believes that such a vote, even if it were to pass, would not change facts on the ground or suddenly create a Palestinian state. Regardless of what happens at the UN, the lives of ordinary Palestinian people and the ongoing massive violations of their human rights will remain at the forefront of our concerns.

That said, we do believe the campaign for Palestinian statehood has and can catalyze an important global conversation about the fundamental Palestinian right to self-determination, and the United States’ and Israel’s ongoing role in thwarting that right.

The PA’s decision to bring the case for statehood to the United Nations after years of frustration with so-called peace talks has highlighted the fact that the US-brokered “peace process” has actually helped entrench the occupation. It has equally underscored the reality that Israel’s current Prime Minister has absolutely no intention of stopping settlement expansion.

Further, Israeli and US efforts to weaken or stop a UN vote that in no way is anti-Israel, including US Congress’ threat to withhold millions in aid should the PA push for the vote, and the US affirmation that it will veto it if it goes to the UN Security Council, reveal the obstructive role the United States continues to play in the region— contributing to further injustice and bloodshed that threatens both Palestinians and Israelis.

Finally, we believe that the vote, and the conversation it is engendering among those who believe it’s time for Palestinians to finally achieve their freedom, should be understood in the context of a series of milestones that all point towards an acceleration of the decades old movement for justice.
These milestones include the unexpected rise of the Arab Spring, the rapid growth of the Palestinian nonviolent resistant movement inside of the West Bank, and the growing successes of the global nonviolent solidarity actions in the form of the Gaza flotilla and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). These, coupled with Israel’s increasingly controversial and anti-democratic measures, which are all adding to its sense of isolation and pressure, all mark a hopeful shift in the decades old movement for justice for Palestinians.

ARTICLE CONTINUES...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Media Release: 125+ Groups & 25,000+ Individuals: "Don't Veto Palestinian UN Membership"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 5, 2011

Washington, DC -- The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation delivered today to the State Department an open letter signed by more than 125 groups, including 30 national organizations, and petitions signed by more than 25,000 people urging the Obama Administration not to veto Palestinian UN membership if the issue arises in the Security Council.

National organizations Code Pink, Grassroots International, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Just Foreign Policy contributed petition signatures to the overall count. 

The open letter reads in part:

"Palestinians have been prevented from exercising their rights to freedom and self-determination on even a portion of their historic homeland due to Israel's historic and ongoing policies of ethnic cleansing, apartheid, military occupation, and colonization... Palestinians have waited more than 63 years for their human rights. We urge you—do not set a timetable for Palestinian freedom by vetoing Palestinian membership in the United Nations."

Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign, stated that:

"The American people are ahead of the administration in recognizing that our policy towards the region has failed. Even though the State Department has been unwilling to meet with us yet, we have made clear to the Obama Administration that thousands of people across this country, and a diverse and growing coalition of organizations representing hundreds of thousands more will continue to organize until we end unconditional U.S. support for Israel's illegal military occupation and apartheid policies toward Palestinians. Through our efforts, the U.S. government will realize what so many people already know: that the way to achieve a just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace is to base our country's policies on human rights, international law, and equality, and not to deny Palestinians freedom and self-determination."

Other national organizations endorsing the open letter include: the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Educational Trust, American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine, American Jews for a Just Peace, American Muslims for Palestine, Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine-Israel Network, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Friends of Sabeel—North America ,Global Exchange, Interfaith Peace-Builders, Intersect Worldwide, Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A.), Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)—USA, Middle East Children's Alliance, Paulist Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, Peace Action, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship,  Progressive Democrats of America, Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice , Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East, United for Peace and Justice,  United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, U.S. Peace Council, and War Resisters League.

For the complete text of the open letter and the complete list of organizational endorsements, click here.

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is a national coalition of more than 350 organizations working to change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights, international law, and equality. For more information see www.endtheoccupation.org.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Take Action: Tell U.S. Not to Veto Palestine's Membership in UN Security Council

Last Friday an estimated 2,000 Palestinians and Israelis marched together through the streets of Jerusalem in support of Palestinian efforts to gain UN membership and additional statehood recognition when the UN meets this fall.

Envisioning a future free of Israeli military occupation, apartheid and colonization, these protesters carried placards declaring "We March Together for Liberation," and "Solidarity with Palestine."

Take action now to echo their message to the Obama Administration.

Who stands in their way? Our government does. The United States is trying furiously to restart the morally bankrupt "peace process," which perpetually fails because our government acts as "Israel's lawyer," in the words of former negotiator Aaron David Miller.

By dangling before Palestinians the prospect of renewed, biased, and interminable negotiations in exchange for dropping their UN membership bid, the United States is hoping to avert the embarrassment of vetoing Palestine's application in the Security Council and thereby once again exposing itself as the guarantor of Israeli military occupation and apartheid. 



Above: These signs appeared among the 2,000 protesters last Friday in Jerusalem.



But, as Friday's demonstrators reminded us: "Only Free People Can Negotiate."  And Palestinians are not free people while living under Israeli occupation, as second-class citizens of Israel, or as refugees whom Israel exiled from their homes.

Palestinians are seeking membership in the United Nations as a way toward Palestinian freedom and self-determination, but President Obama mistakenly has equated this with "efforts to single Israel out" at the UN and has promised to "stand up against" this initiative.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote in his Letter from Birmingham Jail that the worst stumbling block to freedom's advance is the person who "believes he can set the timetable for another" person's freedom.

Join the US Campaign and other prominent national organizations--including: the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Jews for a Just Peace, American Muslims for Palestine, CODEPINK--Women for Peace, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Friends of Sabeel--North America, Interfaith Peace-Builders, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)--USA, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Peace Action--to urge the Obama Administration not to set a timetable on another's freedom by vetoing Palestine's UN membership application.


This could be debated in the Security Council as early as July 25, so join us today in signing this important petition.



Above: Click to watch our hand-delivery of 7,500 signatures to Ambassador Rice last February, demanding the U.S. support a UN resolution against Israeli settlements.


If we get 100 organizations and 10,000 individuals to endorse the petition, then we'll deliver it to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice before the vote.

Please take action today and then help us spread the word!

Want to learn more about Palestine UN membership and statehood recognition? Check out our FAQ to get our position and to explore the political, legal and historical issues. Plus, check out more in-depth analysis here.

Thank you for taking action to tell the Obama Administration not to veto Palestine's UN membership application.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The UN Already Voted for a Palestinian state -- in 1947


Our National Advocacy Director wrote an opinion article that was published in today's South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

By Josh Ruebner
June 29, 2011

For all intents and purposes, the two-decade-long U.S. "peace process" — premised on privileging Israeli occupation and apartheid at the expense of Palestinian human and national rights — is dead in the water. Is it any wonder that the United States, a country that provides Israel each year with the $3 billion in weapons to oppress Palestinians and that functions as "Israel's lawyer," according to former U.S. "peace process" insider Aaron David Miller, has repeatedly failed to broker a just peace?

The jig is up and it is unlikely that the Palestinian political leadership would agree to return to such a rigged U.S. negotiating table. Were Palestinian leaders inclined to do so, it is doubtful that the Palestinian public would stand for it.

Instead, Palestinians appear to be pursuing a diplomatic strategy of going around and not through the United States to achieve their long-denied rights. In February, Palestinians forced the Obama administration to use its first and only veto in the Security Council to prevent the United Nations from condemning Israel's illegal settlements. By doing so, Palestinians exposed the hypocrisy of the United States shielding Israel from accountability for a policy which even the Obama administration opposes and demonstrated how disconnected the United States is from the rest of the international community on this issue.

ARTICLE CONTINUES...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Amb. Michael Oren dishes out anti-flotilla “marching orders” in private Jewish Federation call

The U.S. Boat to Gaza--the Audacity of Hope--is planned to set sail in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla II in the next few days, and is a coalition member group of the US Campaign, and a US Campaign-endorsed initiative. This article also involves the issue of Palestinian UN membership and statehood, which the US Campaign has also been tracking closely.

By Max Blumenthal
June 22, 2011

On June 22, the Jewish Federation of America's new, multi-million dollar "Israel Action Network" hosted a conference call with Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. The call was an urgent response to the flotilla preparing to cruise towards Gaza in order to challenge Israel's maritime blockade of the destitute coastal strip. David Sherman, the vice chair of the Federation's board of trustees, introduced the new initiative and Oren's involvement in it as a key to combating Israel's "delegitimization."

Throughout the call, Oren seemed more concerned about the Arab Spring, Israel's relations with Turkey, and the Palestinian unity arrangement than the upcoming flotilla. He opened his remarks by launching into a fast paced survey of the myriad regional threats Israel supposedly faced, then explained how the state would tamp down on each one.

...

Amb. Michael Oren
The new flotilla — Oren attacked the organizers of the flotilla as "radical anti-Israel organizations…known also for anti-American activities." He cited statements by the US State Department and UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon criticizing or condemning their actions. Then Oren claimed that the flotilla could simply deliver its aid through a "responsible organization" like UNRWA, or bring their materials through El Arish and allow Israel to offload it. "It's not a fight between us and the people of Gaza," Oren claimed. "It's between us and the group Hamas which is determined to destroy the state of Israel." (Never mind this Israeli government document). He went on to claim that Israel's maritime blockade was "in full accord with international law," though he did not explain how besieging a civilian population that was not actively engaged in a full-scale war against Israel comported with the 4th Geneva Convention or the San Remo Accords.

Next, Oren proudly announced that Israel had tentatively authorized an aid shipment to Gaza containing construction materials for 1200 new buildings and 18 new schools (UNRWA officials were skeptical that the aid would actually arrive as Israel said). The timing of the shipment and Oren's promotion of it suggested that the flotilla had already made an impact. Would Israeli authorities have authorized the aid in without outside pressure? Whether or not they would have, Israel was seeking to extract as much propaganda value as it could from its agreement.

The Palestinian unilateral declaration of statehood — The ambassador seemed far more troubled about the Palestinian Authority's plan to introduce a statehood resolution at the United Nations General Assembly in September than about any other issue. Oren suggested that Israel would attempt to force the Palestinians back to the negotiating table in order to keep them away from the UN. In other words, the peace process would be Israel's tool for blocking Palestine from winning statehood on a unilateral basis. In this effort, Oren described Dennis Ross, the White House special advisor on Middle East affairs, as Israel's ally.

"We are working closely with the Obama Administration in trying to find a common framework that would enable the European Union to support negotiations in the framework to get them back to negotiations and keep them away from General Assembly," Oren commented. "Dennis Ross is in Israel today conducting negotiations so we have reasons for some optimism. But we have to prepare for the worst. [With the statehood resolution] we are preparing for various scenarios of unrest in the West Bank, further attempts by the P.A. to use their improved status to delegitimize israel a la Goldstone type initiatives. Netanyahu has been meeting with the Italian government about this, and they are working tirelessly. And he is working closely with the Canadians who are very supportive."

When Oren finished his remarks, the administrators of the call allowed time for a few questions. One caller asked Oren what Jews in the United States could do about the flotilla. "Stress that there's no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the border is open for all materials, there is no shortage of food or medicine, and that our maritime blockade is upheld by the United States as completely legal and necessary for Israel's defense," Oren said.

Before I could ask a question about the legality of Israel's siege of Gaza, Martin Raffel, the director of the Israel Action Network, came on the line to conclude the call. "I want to echo [what Oren said]," Raffel remarked. "Our role is not to be passive observers. We have to shake the public discourse so we're sending message points and program guidance to everyone involved. And we hope you have some marching orders for when you go back to your communities."

READ FULL ARTICLE...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Will Palestine Be the Newest UN Member? What Is Our Role?

This September, Palestinians are expected to push for the State of Palestine to become a full member of the United Nations and to get additional countries to recognize Palestinian statehood. 

Will this important diplomatic initiative succeed? It probably won't if the United States wields its veto in the Security Council to block Palestine's application for UN membership. Given the Obama Administration's track record of shielding Israel from accountability, there's every reason to believe that the United States will once again try to thwart Palestinian rights.

Just last month at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference, President Barack Obama declared:

"No vote at the United Nations will ever create an independent Palestinian state... the United States will stand up against efforts to single Israel out at the United Nations... Israel's legitimacy is not a matter for debate."

By equating Palestinian efforts to seek their long-denied rights at the UN with the "delegitimization" of Israel, President Obama is subjecting Palestinian freedom to Israel's timetable.

As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail: "For years now I have heard the word 'Wait!'... This 'Wait' has almost always meant 'Never.'" The worst stumbling block to freedom's advance, King argued, is the person who "believes he can set the timetable for another" person's freedom.

After two decades of waiting for statehood through negotiations with Israel in a U.S.-dominated "peace process" that always relegated Palestinian human rights to the back of the bus, Palestinians are now taking their case directly to the UN.

Although the US Campaign is not taking a position on this Palestinian initiative, we do affirm:

"Mr. President, you are wrong to stand in their way."

Our country's support for Israeli occupation and apartheid is the key stumbling block to Palestinian freedom and it is up to us to change that.

To help us do so, we're launching a Frequently Asked Questions document to tackle the tricky legal, political, and historical issues raised by this initiative, as well as the implications for our coalition's work to change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights, international law, and equality.

Here are some of the important questions addressed in our FAQ:

Will UN membership for Palestine change realities on the ground for Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation?

Will recognition of Palestinian statehood by additional countries advance or set back Palestinian human rights?


We don't claim to have all the answers or to know how this will work out at the UN this September and beyond.  But we do hope that the FAQ helps us all think about this important policy development. 

We've also assembled links to additional resources highlighting different perspectives on the subject.

Whatever happens between now and the fall, this is the time for us to redouble our efforts to change U.S. policy to support Palestinian freedom, justice, and equality and end Israeli occupation and apartheid.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A State of Palestine: The Case for UN Recognition and Membership

Editor's Note: Al-Shabaka is directed by Nadia Hijab, a member of the Advisory Board of the US Campaign. Our blog also featured this op-ed by Victor Kattan on May 1, 2011. Kattan is the author of From Coexistence to Conquest: International Law and the Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1891-1949 (London: Pluto Books, 2009) and The Palestine Question in International Law (London: British Institute of International and Comparative Law, 2008). Victor was a Teaching Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London from 2008-2011 where he is presently completing his PhD. Previously Victor worked for the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (2006-2008), Arab Media Watch (2004-2006), and the BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights as a UNDP TOKTEN consultant (2003-2004).

By Victor Kattan
May 27, 2011

Overview

Is the strategy of seeking international recognition from and membership of the United Nations (UN) this September for the State of Palestine a meaningful move or just a gimmick? What benefits would UN membership bring given that Israel may still retain de facto control over the occupied Palestinian territories? What would the impact be on the growing movement for a one-state solution? In this policy brief, Al-Shabaka Policy Advisor Victor Kattan tackles these and other questions below and finds that on balance UN membership for a State of Palestine would be a strategic asset to the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, although there are risks involved.

The Strategy in Question

Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and President of the Palestinian National Authority (PA), affirmed in the New York Times on 17 May 2011 that “this September, at the United Nations General Assembly, we will request international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and that our state be admitted as a full member of the United Nations.”

Although this announcement has provoked a storm of indignation amongst certain constituencies in the United States, it will not come as a complete surprise to those who have been following developments closely. In the past six months several Latin American countries have recognized the state of Palestine, bringing the total number of countries to have done so since 1988 to over 100. In addition, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom have upgraded the Palestine General Delegations in their capitals to diplomatic missions and embassies—a status normally reserved for states.

From Abbas’s op-ed it would appear that there are two prongs to this strategy: international recognition of Palestine as a state, and membership of the UN.

Recognition

Although the Palestinian strategy has not been fully articulated, it appears that the PLO hopes to use the opening plenary of the UN General Assembly in September as a forum to call upon other states to recognize it. In other words it will seek collective recognition.

According to Riyad al-Maliki, the PA Foreign Minister, some 150 countries have said that they will recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders in September.4 If this number is achieved it could be significant, especially if it includes recognition from some of the countries in the European Union (EU.) This is because if recognition of a Palestinian state is viewed as constitutive (the argument that statehood is a matter of recognition only) then the number and quality of states that recognize Palestine is important. If, however, recognition of a Palestinian state is viewed as declaratory (the argument that recognition alone cannot confer statehood but must be accompanied by other factors, independence being particularly important) then there is of course a problem if Israel retains control over the occupied territories.

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