With the conclusion of his trip to the Middle East last week comes reflection over the messages President Obama conveyed and the role of the United States in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
ADC commends the President on his statement calling for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and the daily indignities Palestinians suffer as a result of the occupation. ADC also recognizes the significance of his visit to the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem.
However, we did not see a call to action that would have turned the hopeful inspirational language of ending the occupation into concrete goals. In fact, the actions of the United States continue to support Israel’s illegal occupation and undermine Palestinian quest for freedom. The day after the President’s speech, the United States government exhibited yet another example in its long history of this at the Human Rights Council in Geneva when it voted “no” to Palestinians’ right to self-determination, “no” to human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and “no” to a fact finding mission to investigate Israeli settlements.
At the same time, the United States is due to send $3 billion in aid to Israel this year, despite concerns that some of this money is being used toward committing human rights violations, such as building and expanding settlements, home demolitions, land confiscation, and most importantly the harsh treatment of Palestinian political prisoners, among them Samer Issawi and others, who have gone on hunger strike to protest the conditions under which they are held. President Obama’s softened language on the building of Israeli settlements is also troubling, as these settlements are illegal under international law and render the possibility of a contiguous and autonomous Palestinian state more difficult to achieve.
Although there was no expectation that this trip would lead to significant change, ADC urges President Obama to begin to lead the way in implementing a long overdue and urgently needed US policy that genuinely encourages an end to the occupation, rather than unequivocal support of it.