U.S. Citizens in Palestine Voice Their Concerns
"Why is our government supporting brutal occupation?"
October 30 ­In a press conference held today in Ramallah, West Bank, approximately 100 U.S. citizens gathered at the Friends Boys School to express their deep concern over the continuing carnage in Palestine and the failure of the U.S. government to take a just stance in the Israel/Palestinian conflict. The group called on the United States to live up to its role as an “honest broker” in peace efforts and to uphold the principles of justice, liberty and human rights that America stands for.

Among the concerns that were raised by the participants at the press conference include: the terrorization of Palestinian civilians and disregard for human rights by the Israeli military, the lack of balance in U.S actions and statements, and America’s role in supporting the military occupation without insisting on compliance with international law governing occupation. Also brought to light was the failure of the U.S. Consulate to be responsive to the needs of Arab Americans living in the occupied territories. One woman related that her son, a U.S. citizen visiting in Palestine, was arrested and tortured by Israeli forces on his way to the neighborhood grocery store. “He has been held for over a month now without charge.” 

Palestinian American school children sent a message to their peers in the U.S., “while you’re going to parties and preparing for homecoming, we’re hiding from missiles and bullets,” said Saed Atshan. Media bias and general mischaracterization of the conflict and the current crises were also mentioned.

“It is wrong for the United States to support continued military occupation and the use of brutal force by Israel against Palestinian civilians. We call on our government to take decisive steps towards ensuring compliance with international and humanitarian law and to play a vital role in bringing an immediate end to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian people” said spokesman Mohammad Abdrabbo.
 

Press Statement:

Americans Abroad Concerned Over U.S. Role in Israel/Palestinian
Conflict October 30, 2000

We are U.S. citizens, living in occupied Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza Strip, outraged over the continuing carnage in Palestine, which so far has resulted in the death of at least 130 Palestinians, 4 Palestinian security officers, one Israeli civilian, and 6 Israeli soldiers. No less than 6000 Palestinian civilians lie injured. 30% of the Palestinian casualties are children 18 years of age and under.

We deplore the failure of our government to condemn the use of lethal weaponry, including missiles, helicopter gunships, rubber-coated steel bullets, live ammunition, heavy machine gunfire, exploding dum-dum bullets, and linked 40mm grenade launchers by Israeli troops, against Palestinian civilians. Many of us have watched as American-made attack helicopters have been used to bomb Palestinian residential areas, including in our own neighborhoods.

We condemn the unilateral actions and statements of our Administration, Congress and candidates for public office, which contradict the U.S. government’s position as an “honest broker” in peace efforts. We specifically denounce the U.S. Congress’ passage of Resolution 426, placing the blame for the current violence entirely on the Palestinian leadership, and the U.S. Administration’s plans to push for additional military aid to Israel.

We regret our government’s decision to close its embassies in the Arab world. We are concerned about the growing alienation on the popular level in the Arab world due to the perception of lack of balance in U.S, policy.

We call on the Administration to immediately implement the following:

1.Protection for Palestinian Civilians: Take the lead in providing international protection for Palestinian civilians, particularly in the areas of conflict and flash points.

2.International Inquiry: Support the demand for an immediate international inquiry into the root causes of the conflict, as called for in UN Resolution 1322, and support the immediate implementation of the resolution.

3.Humanitarian Assistance: Help ensure that international emergency aid, including medical supplies and foodstuffs, reach the Palestinian people.

4.Palestinian Rights: Reaffirm and strengthen President Clinton’s statement in Gaza supporting Palestinian inalienable rights for self-determination in the same manner that he has recently supported the Kosovar people in their fight for freedom.

5.Arms Shipments: Suspend arms shipments to Israel in light of the use of U.S. supplied weapons against Palestinian civilians, a violation of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act.

6.Foreign Aid: Halt the transfer of U.S. taxpayer money to Israel, currently in the amount of 6 billion dollars per year, for as long as Israel remains in violation of UN Resolutions and international law.

We are currently witnessing some of the worst violence this region has ever seen. Our homes and businesses are being attacked by the Israeli military on a daily basis. Our children live in terror as a result of these on-going attacks The United States has the power to facilitate an immediate end to the illegal Israeli occupation. Too many US tax dollars, too many lives, too much injustice to the Palestinian people, and too much suffering and waste should make the events of the last one month the final wake up call. The time has come for the United States to place itself on the right side of history in this 50+ year conflict. We expect our government to stand up for the justice, liberty and human rights that America stands for.

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