Greens: President Obama must press Israel to end East Jerusalem settlements

WASHINGTON, DC -- President Obama must put pressure on Israel immediately to stop the construction of settlements and displacement of

Palestinians in East Jerusalem, Green Party leaders and candidates said today.

"President Obama should send Prime Minister Netanyahu a message: enough is enough. If Israel continues to violate Palestinian human rights, the US must cancel the $30 million military aid package pledged to Israel for 2009-2018. The plan to build 1,600 housing units for Israeli Jews in East Jerusalem is the latest outrage. Although a rumored US abstension from a possible UN Security Council resolution against the settlements would be an improvement over its usual veto on Israel's behalf, this would still be an act of moral cowardice," said Sanda Everette, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States. (News story on the possible UN resolution.)

"The White House's angry response to the East Jerusalem settlement announcement was a necessary first step, but it needs to be followed by concrete action, like support for a UN resolution against the settlements or actually withdrawing military aid. President Obama should show the kind of leadership that led Eisenhower to demand that Israel leave Sinai in 1955," said Ms. Everette.

The Green Party has demanded that the US end military assistance to Israel, which has used such aid to displace Palestinians from their homes and farm lands, hold them in concentration camp conditions, maintain Bantustans in the style of apartheid-era South Africa, and launch illegal military assaults such as last year's bloody invasion of Gaza.

"While the international community has been unable to deal with Israel's violations after decades of UN resolutions, civil society has increasingly endorsed BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) as a powerful nonviolent strategy to pressure Israel into ending the Palestinian occupation and guaranteeing equality for all in Israel-Palestine. In 2005, the Green Party endorsed a BDS resolution comparable to the one passed by the Senate of the Associated Students of UC Berkeley in March," said Derek Grigsby, Green candidate for State Representative in Michigan, District 7 ([email protected]).

The Berkeley students' bill calls on the university to divest its assets from two General Electric and United Technologies for "materially and militarily supporting the Israeli government's occupation of the Palestinian territories" and to advocate that the UC, with about $135 million invested in companies that profit from Israel's illegal actions in the Occupied Territories.

Greens have urged the White House and Congress to reject the influence of AIPAC and to establish Middle East policy based on recognition that the rights of Palestinians must be equal to the rights of Israelis, on peaceful negotiation to resolve the conflict, and complete regional nuclear disarmament. Greens have noted the hypocrisy of applying sanctions against Iran for its alleged nuclear ambitions without insisting that Israel get rid of its nuclear weapons -- especially since Israel, unlike Iran, has launched military attacks on other countries. (See "Arab Leaders Call for Middle East Free of Nuclear Weapons" Earth Times March 28, 2010.)

"We encourage Israeli and Palestinian leaders -- and President Obama -- to follow the lead of human rights activists like Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, organizer of the Wheels of Justice tour. In his embrace of nonviolent resistance as a tactic for justice, Dr. Qumsiyeh continues an often unrecognized history of Palestinian non-violent resistance and keeps alive the tradition of Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King. In response, the Israeli army has targeted him for arrest," said Tony Affigne, Rhode Island Green and member of the party's International Committee.

Dr. Qumsiyeh, former associate professor of genetics at the Yale University School of Medicine and a member of the Green Party of Connecticut before he moved back to Palestine, wrote about his experiences in a New Haven Register op-ed published on March 9, 2010 ("Peaceful protest in Israel can lead to arrest" ).

"The US's uncritical support for Israel and flow of military and financial aid endanger US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and threaten US security and global stability. Even Gen. Petraeus and VP Biden have admitted this," said Rodger Jennings, Green candidate for US Congress in Illinois, District 12. (See "The Petraeus briefing: Biden's embarrassment is not the whole story," Foreign Policy, March 13, 2010.) "The Gaza assault, which couldn't have happened without US weapons, was a major turning point for people worldwide, including many American Jews. Like the misery that continues for Gazans, the memory of that horrific assault lingers."

Greens note that, until recently, a campaign to silence critics of Israeli policies and actions helped maintain unilateral support for Israel, especially in the US, and that censorship of such criticism has sustained the conflict. Many US Greens expressed alarm when the Heinrich Boell Foundation, a legally independent political foundation affiliated with the German Green Party, canceled February speaking engagements in Germany by Dr. Norman Finkelstein, an American Jewish scholar, child of Holocaust survivors, and author of books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the politics of the Holocaust.

"There is increasing recognition that the two-state solution is not viable. Israel-Palestine is already a de facto single state, mainly because of Israel's illegal settlement policies, with over 500,000 Israeli Jews living in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. It's time to consider the one-state solution -- one homeland for both peoples -- with a secular democracy that ensures full and equal rights regardless of religion or ethnicity, " said Farheen Hakeem, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States. (See "Palestinians Increasingly Back 1-State," Jerusalem Post, March 22, 2010, and "Who's Afraid of a One-State Solution?" by Dmitry Reider, Foreign Policy, March 31.)