Americans Need to Demand that Our Government Suspend Military Aid to Israel

Below is the text of a petition I have written calling on the US government immediately to suspend all military aid, sales and deliveries of weapons to Israel and the PA, and to demand that other governments to the same with Israel, the PA and Hamas. From my experience and knowledge of this conflict, it contains the minimum requirements to achieve a cessation of violence and move towards a final peace settlement between Israel and Palestine.

The petition can be signed here.

To: To President Bush, President Elect Obama, and Israeli and Palestinian Leaders

We, the undersigned, call on the United States government--the Bush Administration as well as the incoming Obama Administration--to immediately suspend all military aid and arms sales and deliveries to the State of Israel and to Palestinian Authority, and to call upon the international community to similarly suspend all military aid, sales, and deliveries of arms to either Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and other Palestinian groups involved in the current conflict in Gaza.

The actions of the Israeli government during the current conflict in Gaza, as well as of Hamas and other Palestinian groups involved in the fighting, have systematically violated numerous international laws, including but not limited to: Article 56 of the IV Hague Convention of 1907, the First Additional Protocol of the Geneva Convention, the Fourth Geneva Convention (particularly articles 33 and 147), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the principles of Customary International Humanitarian Law.

Together, this body of law clearly mandates that no party to a conflict can directly attack civilian targets, or use indiscriminate force against, or in the vicinity of, civilians or non-military institutions or structures. Nor can fighters or soldiers take up positions in or around civilian structures when civilians are present.

There is significant incontrovertible evidence that the State of Israel has repeatedly and willfully violated these principles, and in so doing has committed grave breaches of international law as defined in the Fourth Geneva Conventions, the "Control Council Law No. 10, Punishment of Persons Guilty of War Crimes, Crimes Against Peace and Against Humanity, December 20, 1945, 3 Official Gazette Control Council for Germany 50-55 (1946)," and more recently by the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court.

In so far as the United States has ratified these international treaties, Israel's violations of them are also violations of US Federal law, as are Hamas's violations.

Additionally, Israel's use of American weapons to engage in military actions that are not of a purely defensive nature violate the US Arms Control Export Act of 1976 (US Federal Code, Title 22, Chapter 39, Subchapter III, § 2778, sections A & B).

We note that Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups engaged in the current fighting have also engaged in violations of international humanitarian law. However, the United States government, and through it American taxpayers, do not provide any military aid to these groups or sell them weapons. American taxpayers are giving billions of dollars a year to Israel in military aid, and tens of millions of dollars to the Palestinian Authority, at a time of record budget deficits, when people are losing their homes, students are being forced to leave universities and businesses to close down for a lack of funds.

We urge our government to use this money to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians, not support violence and oppression.

Given this, we call on our government to continue with a suspension of all aid, sales and deliveries of arms to Israel, and to work with other governments to ensure a suspension of all military aid to Palestinians, until such time as the actions of each side are in compliance with international law, they have agreed to a full and comprehensive truce, renounced the use of violence in the pursuit of political or territorial goals, and are engaged in good faith negotiations towards a final settlement of all outstanding issues with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

To Israel, Hamas and other Palestinian groups involved in the fighting in Gaza, we call on all of these parties to agree to an immediate, unconditional and durable ceasfire, allow unrestricted deliveries of humanitarian aid to affected areas, and to renounce the use of violence as a means of achieving political or territorial aims. Moreover, we call on Israel and Hamas leaders simultaneously:

For Hamas:
1) to explicitly recognize the right of the State of Israel to exist within internationally recognized borders;
2) to express its willingness to establish formal relations with Israel upon the signing of a final peace agreement by Israel and the democratically elected leadership of the Palestinian people; and
3) to renounce the use of violence directed against civilians under any circumstances.

For Israel:
1) to end the siege of Gaza and similarly renounce the use of violence directed against civilians;
2) to declare its willingness to negotiate with the democratically elected government of the Palestinian people;
3) to declare its intention to begin at the nearest possible date evacuations of all settlements and their residents from the West Bank territories covered by the final negotiating map presented by Israel during the Taba peace negotiations of January, 2001; and
4) to begin good faith negotiations at the soonest possible date towards an agreement on the remaining West Bank territories and all other outstanding issues of the conflict.

We call on the US Government and leaders around the world to use their influence and authority with both sides to gain their acceptance to these terms.