ADC Urges Stronger American Response

Washington, DC, October 5 –Officials of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the largest national grassroots Arab-American organization, met today with Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Edward S. Walker, Jr., to discuss recent developments in Palestine and the Middle East. ADC was represented at the meeting by the Vice Chairman of its Board of Directors, Albert Mokhiber, the Treasurer of the Board, Dr. Safa Rifka, and ADC Vice President Khalil E. Jahshan.
Ambassador Walker briefed the ADC leaders about the latest attempts by the Clinton Administration to bring about a “cease-fire” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. These efforts include the meetings held by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in Paris and Sharm El-Sheikh. While expressing the regret of the Administration about the escalating violence and significant loss of life in Palestine and Israel, Walker indicated that the Administration’s priority at this time is to secure an effective cease-fire between the two parties and prevent the situation from further deterioration.
ADC officials expressed the anger and frustration of Arab Americans at the excessive violence used by Israel to quell Palestinian demonstrations and at the mild American condemnation of these Israeli violations of American and international laws. ADC urged the Administration to undertake the following steps:
Support the convening of an international panel to investigate the causes and implications of the current violence in Palestine.
Reassess the American public response to the events in the region and issue a sharper and more credible condemnation of Israeli excessive use of violence in suppressing the Palestinian uprising.
Consider tangible steps to impress upon Israel that it must cease and desist from its excessive and aggressive use of American weapons against civilian targets.
Make the negotiating process more equitable by refocusing American peacemaking efforts seriously on permanent status issues such as the Palestinian refugees, Jerusalem, settlements and final boundaries. Although the current negotiations were based on the concept of the exchange of land for peace, they have clearly drifted from that objective to one demanding the exchange of total peace for a small part of the land. Arab Americans find this formula unacceptable.
In addition to the situation in Palestine, the meeting with Ambassador Walker focused on the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem, the need for substantive US assistance to Lebanon to rebuild the South damaged by many years of Israeli occupation, and the issue of economic sanctions imposed on Iraq. Walker explained that legislative constraints in the US Congress and the absence of a new Prime Minister in Lebanon have slowed down the allocation of American aid to Lebanon. As for Iraq, Ambassador Walker stated that the Administration is not opposed to humanitarian flights to Baghdad, indeed, it welcomes activities by more NGO’s in Iraq to ensure diversity in the sources of humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people beyond the government in Baghdad.

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