ADC Welcomes Arafat Speech, Urges US to Respond Constructively

WASHINGTON, DC — The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) today called on the Bush Administration to respond to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s call for an end to violence by taking meaningful steps to ensure that Israel’s attacks against the Palestinians stop. President Arafat strongly denounced terrorism, called for a complete and immediate end to all attacks against Israeli civilians and demanded a comprehensive cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis. Over 850 Palestinians, mostly unarmed civilians, and over 230 Israelis have been killed in 14 months of bloodshed.
ADC President Ziad Asali said “President Arafat has gone the extra mile to establish the conditions for calm and a resumption of peace negotiations. However, no progress can be possible as long as the Palestinian people and Authority remain under Israeli siege and are subjected to constant attacks. The United States must respond to President Arafat’s commitments by ensuring that Israel lifts its siege and stops its attacks and assassinations.” Asali concluded that “Ultimately, there can be no peace under conditions of military occupation. What is urgently needed is new negotiations based on an understanding that they will result in a complete end to the occupation, the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem, peace and security for Israelis and freedom and independence for the Palestinians.”
ADC also called on the Bush Administration not to block efforts by the international community to help curb violence between Palestinians and Israelis. Yesterday, the United States vetoed a UN Security Council resolution which encouraged “all concerned to establish a monitoring mechanism” to help lessen tensions between the two sides. The resolution also condemned all terrorist acts, executions without trial, excessive use of force and the destruction of property. ADC is categorically opposed to all attacks on civilian targets, including suicide bombings, no matter who the perpetrators or victims are. ADC urged the Bush Administration to recognize that, as the Occupying Power in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel is bound to observe the terms of the 4th Geneva Convention, and that the protections it affords to the Palestinians are a matter of human rights and not a bargaining chip.

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