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US Campaign Steering Committee Statement on the Geneva Accords

DECEMBER 10, 2003

International attention has recently focused on the "Geneva Accord" signed by Palestinian and Israeli negotiators in their private capacity earlier this month.

The US Campaign to End Israeli Occupation supports all genuine efforts to achieve peace between Palestinians and Israelis. We have carefully reviewed the Geneva Accord and note that it is an advance over earlier official negotiations such as the Taba Talks, Camp David, and the Oslo Accords. That advance is particularly apparent in its references to the goal of eliminating all weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East region. (See links at the end of this message for articles analyzing the pros and cons of Geneva).

However, as has been the case with previous initiatives, the Geneva Accord does not fully apply international law and human rights to the conflict. We continue to believe this is the only approach that will result in a just and lasting peace.

Today, December 10, 2003, marks International Human Rights Day. It is fitting to reaffirm the principles of human rights and to recall some of the ways in which international law applies to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

International law provides for self-determination, the right of refugees to return, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war, the need to safeguard the rights of populations under occupation, and the illegality of any change in the status of the occupied land.

The Geneva Accord would not fulfill international law in the following important ways:

* Without consultation with the Palestinian people, Palestinian self-determination would be given expression in a truncated state that does not enjoy full sovereignty over borders, airspace, natural resources, and economic development, and that remains under Israeli and international oversight arrangements that can be renewed indefinitely.

* There is no complete end to occupation: instead, substantial numbers of illegal Israeli settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank are legitimized through annexation to Israel.

* With regard to the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, Israel is given the authority to decide how many will return, if any, to the part of Palestine that became Israel in 1948, in violation of the commitment Israel made when it joined the United Nations.

* The Accord would make it impossible for Palestinians to claim compensation for the destruction and loss of property and resources during the years of occupation itself. Under international law, Palestinians are entitled to compensation for these and other illegal acts by the occupying power.

The Geneva Accord continues the unfortunate pattern of previous peace efforts, building up people's hopes and diverting their energies through high profile negotiations and agreements that never fully address the roots of the conflict. We believe that these failures share a common denominator: lack of political will to end the Israeli occupation and guarantee equal rights for all people.

We believe that we must redouble our efforts to educate and organize Americans concerning our government's role in blocking the application of human rights and international law to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Otherwise, we will face more failed diplomatic initiatives that further postpone the possibility of bringing about just and lasting peace.

In solidarity,
The Steering Committee
The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation


* Critique of the Geneva Accord, Phyllis Bennis, US Campaign co-chair and fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies

* "The Israeli Text and Context of the Geneva Accord," Shiko Behar and Michael Warschawski

* Electronic Intifada Editorial: The Geneva Accord: Beyond Time and Space, published in Challenge magazine, November 3, 2003

* US Campaign Fact Sheet #2: "Ending the Occupation: It's the Law"