Dear Secretary Rice,
After so many months of relative calm, it seems that we are again faced with the prospect of increased violence, more loss of innocent lives, destruction of property, violations of international law, and deprivation of rights in Palestine and Israel. All of this is the unfortunate results of Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestine,and the Palestinian people’s attempts to free themselves from the ongoing occupation. Whether or not we agree with the actions Palestinians have taken in an attempt to recapture their freedom and rights, we must recognize that the law, both natural and divine, grants all human beings inalienable rights to life, and liberty and also to pursue happiness.
Israel recently took an important step towards ending the occupation. The dismantling of the illegal settlements in Gaza, was not only an important first step towards the peace that most people are anxious to see between the Israeli and Palestinian people. It was also a first step towards the restoration of international law in respect to the Palestine/ Israel conflict. Without an enforceable law by which both sides must abide, it is very hard for people to understand what is legal, fair, just, right, and/or wrong in respect to the conflict. While Israel was dismantling illegal settlements in Gaza, Israeli courts where laying the groundwork for further illegal usurpation of more Palestinian land, and more illegal settlement building.
How can an Israeli court assume legal authority over land that is clearly, according to international law, Palestinian land? Such action by the Israeli court is a good example of why people cannot be left without mutually recognized and understood law to govern their actions, especially in times of conflict. Hatred and revenge too often inhibit our common sense of humanity, and our ability to act wisely and with restraint. This often leads to cycles of inescapable violence. When there is no civilized law, people resort to the primitive law of might makes right, and the weaker are denied justice through intimidation, and extreme violence, employed to terrorize, and bully.
The US media has described Israel’s attacks on Gaza as acts of war. Israel is prohibited by the Geneva Conventions from waging war against the Palestinian people, a people who according to the Geneva Conventions are a protected people. Israel dismantling the illegal settlements that were in Gaza, did not end the occupation.So long as Israel occupies any part of the land seized in the 1967 war, Israel continues to illegally occupy all of Palestine.
The US must encourage Israel to seek a peaceful way to achieve a reliable cease fire agreement that includes agreements with all of the Palestinian factions. Do whatever is in your power to prevent any further violence, or loss of life. The strongest person is not the person who is able to take the most lives, it is the strong person who saves lives.
It may be time to consider opening direct negotiations between Israel and all of the Palestinian factions, and to work out the terms of a cease fire that everyone agrees upon, and will abide by, and that the international community can help to enforce.
The old formula for peacemaking has proven that it does not work. It doesn’t make much sense to make peace with partners. It is time to make peace between enemies, people locked in a history of violence that can only be changed if we change something. In this instance we need to be inclusive, and get everyone to the table. It is also time to try something other than violence in our attempts to achieve peace. The only thing that has not been tried is recognizng the resistance movement, and getting its leaders to the negotiating table with Israel to work out the terms of a real and hopefully a permanent cease fire.
Anisa Abd el Fattah