The 34-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has destroyed the economy of the Palestinians, reducing their average yearly income to a little over $1000, or about $3 a day while Israelis at $16,000 per individual or $48 per day.
The U.S. has dumped more than $40 billion worth of arms into Israel, and Israelis illegally using many of those weapons to put down an uprising against the occupation.
More than 2000 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel, tens of thousands of olive trees bulldozed, and a whole generation of young Palestinian men rotated in and out of prison. The Israeli violence against the civilian population continues unabated, without any effective U.S. response. Not just the Muslim world, but Europeans are outraged at this silence.
The United States has stood almost alone in vetoing countless resolutions supported by the rest of the world, remaining silent about Israel's nuclear weapons program and providing Israel with massive military assistance, even as it refuses to end its occupation.
Palestinians have recognized the right of Israel to exist in 78% of the country. Israel must compromise by recognizing that the remaining 22% is for the over 2 and a half million Palestinians.
The U.S. has given Israel, one of the richer countries in the world, over $100 billion in financial and military aid, mostly after the Camp David agreement of 1979. This includes billions of dollars in tax-deductible contributions from American supporters of Israel. As our aid to Israel grew, so did Israeli colonies. In 1979, there were 12,000 Jewish-Israeli colonists in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Today, there are over 350,000.
Our polls indicate that a resounding majority of Americans are astonished at the amount of aid the U.S. gives to Israel and want it reduced or eliminated.
The Fourth Geneva Convention (article 49), over 20 UN Security Council resolutions, and international law state that citizens of one country cannot become colonists in territories their country occupies.
Israel established over 150 colonies for Jewish-Israelis only in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967, ten in this year alone, and then instituted two different sets of laws in the West Bank and Gaza -- one for the colonists and one for the Palestinians.
Since 1967, Israel has allowed Palestinians to live and build on only 13% of their land in East Jerusalem. Meanwhile, it continues to build and expand colonies on the rest of the land for the 180,000 Jewish-Israeli colonists who have settled in East Jerusalem.
In 1993, Israel sealed off Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Hundreds of thousands of Christian and Muslim Palestinians are denied access to Jerusalem, including to their holy sites.
The Pope has called for an international commission to supervise the holy places in Israel and Palestine. Only Israel, who refuses to share the city, rejects such a commission.
Since September 11(9/11), U.S. interests across the Middle East have been challenged to find a new formula for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This problem is at the heart of regional animosity directed at the United States.
In 14 months, more than 800 Palestinians, including 150 children, have been killed by the Israel Defense Forces, acting on the Government of Israel's direct orders. More than 16,000 Palestinians have been seriously injured. This is comparable to 56,000 Americans being killed in one year and 1,600,000 seriously injured. Israel has lost 170, including 20 children, equivalent to 8,000 Americans being killed.
Secretary Powell is making a renewed effort at a cease-fire with the vision that it would lead to negotiations, including an end to the occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state.
The Sharon government has made it clear there will be no end to the occupation and no removal of Jewish-Israeli colonies. The U.S. refuses, except with the agreement of both parties, to have international monitoring of the Palestinian areas--knowing that Israel rejects this. But there are 5000 UN troops monitoring events on the Israel border with Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.
Secretary Powell is still not making the crucial connection between our anti-terror fight and the necessity of ending the occupation. Secretary Powell stated that the occupation should end, but our government is still reassuring Sharon that we will not pressure him to give back Palestinian lands.
Exempting Israel from international law even as we call for the end of terror is an international embarrassment and serves only to increase resentment of the United States. There are over 200 million Arabs in the Middle East who have watched us continue to support Israel for over 50 years even as it continually refuses to give Palestinians their rights and refuses to leave the West Bank and Gaza. This is a strategically disastrous and morally flawed policy.
Prime Minister Sharon has been indicted by a court in Brussels. He stands accused of war crimes for his role in the massacre of hundreds of civilians from two refugee camps in Lebanon. He can no longer travel to Belgium. Meanwhile, he is being received at the White House.
["MORE than 100 signatories of the Geneva Convention gathered in Switzerland yesterday to reprimand Israel for 'indiscriminate and disproportionate violence' against Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories. The 114 states - including Britain and the rest of the European Union - issued a joint declaration urging Israel to abide by international laws."--"Israel Condemned by 114 Countries,"Daily Telegraph, December 6, 2001]
["The United States has used its veto at the United
Nations Security Council to block a resolution which called
for international monitors to be sent to the West Bank and
Gaza Strip....it was the second US veto this year against a
resolution proposing an observer force."--"US Blocks
Mid-East Observers," BBC News Online, December 15, 2001]