The conflict in Israel/Palestine has reached new levels of menace and suffering with the Israeli invasion of Gaza. The Israeli government is intent on inflicting significant suffering on the civilian population, targeting the local infrastructure by destroying the local power plant and three bridges. Water and electricity has been cut off to 1.3 million inhabitants. This comes on top of the suffering caused by decades of military occupation and the recent cutoff off of funds to the Palestinian government, which has left the many Palestinians in Gaza facing starvation.
With the “buzzing” of the home of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, by Israeli fighter jets on the pretext that Syria is calling the shots for Hamas in Palestine, there is a grave threat that Israel will also take aggressive military action in Syria.
While I hope that the Israeli’s soldier who has been captured is released unharmed, the pretext by Israeli authorities that the military operation in Gaza is to rescue the “kidnapped” IDF corporal Gilad Shalit does not stand the most elementary tests of reason. However unfortunate Shalit may be, he was a soldier in the line of duty, participating in a military action which had involved deadly shelling of Gaza. Thus he was captured in the line of duty, not kidnapped, and his treatment falls under the laws of war, which most certainly do not call for an invasion in response to the capture of a non-commissioned soldier.
Some 9,800 Palestinian prisoners are currently in Israeli custody, almost all nameless and many of whom have been seized and transferred out of the occupied territories in blatant violation of international law. Yet no protest comes from President Bush, Senator Clinton, or Congress. Over three hundred of the prisoners are children. Many of these prisoners should also be released. However, both sides should refrain from using the threat of violence against individuals as a way to secure the release of their citizens.
The current Israeli attacks on Gaza comes immediately after the Palestinian leadership put forth a peace proposal that includes the recognition of the right of Israel to exist by Hamas, one of the alleged key demands of both the American and Israeli governments. This unfortunately repeats a familiar pattern of disruption of the peace process by the Israeli leadership at key moments.
The United States, including its Senate and its junior Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton, has acted disgracefully in this conflict from its earliest days, and bears heavy responsibility, through its extreme, one-sided favoritism of Israel, for its present continuation.
As Senator from New York, I would press for an even-handed approach to the conflict seeking justice for Palestinians and security for Israelis. In the present instance I would urge, first, an immediate cease-fire and Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Further, I would urge that immediate face-to-face meetings be set up between Israel and a unified Palestinian leadership to attempt a resolution of the basic causes of hostility. It is surely no accident that the present escalation follows upon a movement toward reconciliation among the Palestinian factions, whose next step would be the resumption of peaceful negotiations toward the resolution of the heart and soul of this conflict: the Israeli Occupation of Palestine.
We need to start that process right now. Israel claims that its basic concern is to stop Palestinian firing of Qassam rockets from Gaza, and that this led to the shelling which in turn led to the Palestinian guerrilla raid resulting in the deaths of two IDF soldiers and Cpl. Shalit’s capture. The United States must unequivocally state that there will be no peace in Israel/Palestine so long as the Palestinian people are being deprived of the most elementary human rights and subjected to a never-ending process whose intended outcome can only be their complete dispossession from their homes and expulsion from their homeland. For this is the principal stimulus to their armed struggle. If we do not address this core problem, and what has fed into it, there will be no end of violence and suffering. Not just the Palestinian people will be destroyed in the process: Israel itself will continue its internal process of moral disintegration, and its own destruction will follow.
There can be no peace in Israel/Palestine, and indeed in the entire region, so long as the Israeli Occupation continues under the direct support of the United States. It is the responsibility of each US Senator to work toward a fundamental change in the policy that has given rise to this unending tragedy. I pledge to do so if elected.
I urge Congress and the Bush administration to support negotiations with the democratically elected representatives of the Palestinian people. I also urge the Bush administration and the Israeli government to not unilaterally redraw the boundaries between Israel and Palestine and to immediately begin good faith negotiations with the Palestinian leadership, including representatives of the Hamas government.
I urge both sides to refrain from using violence against one another and for Israel to immediately end its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory.
I stand with the 37 members of Congress who voted against HR 4681, which severely restricts US aid to the Palestinian people so long as Hamas is in power. As a member of the US Senate, I would vote against such legislation, which constitutes a form of collective punishment and flagrant violation of human rights. Congress is starving the Palestinians people because they exercised the democratic rights that our government proclaims as the prime goal of US policy. Such action is a recipe for violence and extremism by cutting off reasonable channels of diplomacy.
The Greens affirm the right of self-determination for both Palestinians and Israelis, which precludes the self-determination of one at the expense of the other. I urge both sides to respect and support the rights and security needs of the other. The Greens recognize that Jewish insecurity is understandable in light of the history of horrific oppression and genocide toward Jews in Europe. However, we oppose as both discriminatory and ultimately self-defeating the position that Jews would be fundamentally threatened by the implementation of human rights to Palestinians, including the right of Palestinian refugees who wish to return to their homes.
I oppose extending US financial and military support to Israel while it continues to occupy Palestinian lands in violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions. More Israelis than Americans are aware of the brutal nature of the occupation, subjecting Palestinians to daily economic deprivation, denial of basic human rights, and violence to Palestinian persons and property.
While the Greens oppose the use of violence as a political strategy, we should recognize that international law permits the Palestinians the right to resist the Occupation. We should also recognize Hamas’ belligerent tone for what it is, a bargaining chip that they feel compelled to use after nearly four decades of a military occupation of Palestinian territory and the repeated failure of Israel to reciprocate to Fatah’s many concessions to Israeli demands. We should acknowledge that Hamas exercised restraint by observing a cease-fire for more than a year until recently. The Israelis did not reciprocate and observe that cease fire.
The US needs to reject the longstanding Israeli strategy of continually provoking violence while preaching peaceful accommodation. In his June 2nd address to Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared: “We extend our hand in peace to the Palestinian People.” But at the very same time, Israeli forces were conducting a large-scale invasion in the heart of Ramallah, at Manara Square, in which the soldiers opened fire and shot to death four Palestinian youths. Such Israeli military actions are extremely common and raise the question of whether Israel deliberately provokes violent Palestinian countermeasures in order to keep the conflict at a level where its absolute military superiority gives it a free hand to do what it wants.
Unlike my opponent, Hillary Clinton, I oppose the construction of the apartheid wall by the Israeli government, often on Palestinian land. This action, capping a set of policies similar to the former apartheid policies of South Africa, by the Israeli government has been ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice.
The Green Party of the United States is a federation of state Green Parties. Committed to environmentalism, non-violence, social justice and grassroots organizing, Greens are renewing democracy without the support of corporate donors. This statement was issued by Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for the US Senate in New York.