Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Nationwide Coaliton of Organizations Call for Legislation to Challenge Israeli Settlements

A nationwide coalition of organizations are calling on Members of Congress to introduce the "Israeli Settlements are Illegal Act of 2015." This legislation calls on the Obama administration to challenge Israel's continued theft of Palestinian land and expansion of illegal settlements.

Every presidential administrations since 1967 has reaffirmed the United States firm opposition to Israel's settlement activities, including repeated condemnations concerning Israel's violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Unfortunately, verbal warnings from the United State and international community have not deterred successive Israeli governments from expanding settlements and entrenching its violations of Palestinian human rights.

It's time for Members of Congress and President Obama to take concrete steps to challenge Israel's violations of U.S. policy and international law.Please encourage your Members of Congress to support the proposed legislation below.

Proposed Legislation to Oppose Illegal Israeli Settlements

114th CONGRESS

1st SESSION

H.R.XXXX

To reaffirm longstanding U.S. policy which deems Israel’s settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory a violation of international law, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

MAY XX, 2015

Ms. XXXX (for herself and Mr. XXXX) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

An Act
To reaffirm longstanding U.S. policy holding that Israel’s settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory are a violation of international law and represent one of the primary obstacles to peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the “Israeli Settlements are Illegal Act of 2015”

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress makes the following findings:

(1) Israel has held the Occupied Palestinian Territory of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip—in addition to the Syrian Golan Heights—under military occupation since June 1967 and is the Occupying Power of this territory under international law.

(2) In an advisory opinion issued on July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice concluded that “the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.”

(3) Article 49 of the Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War states: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

(4) Article 8, Section 2(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines as a war crime “The transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

(5) Since 1967, Israel has established at least 170 illegal settlements on Occupied Palestinian Territory in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and in the Occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

(6) According to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as of 2011, at least 650,000 Israelis reside in these illegal settlements.

(7) In September 1967, Theodore Meron, Legal Counsel of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, wrote in legal memoranda for the Israeli government that “civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention” and that this prohibition is “categorical and is not conditioned on the motives or purposes of the transfer, and is aimed at preventing colonization of conquered territory by citizens of the conquering state.”

(8) In April 1978, Herbert J. Hansel, Legal Advisor, Department of State, wrote a letter to Members of Congress on the illegality of Israeli settlements and concluded that “the establishment of the civilian settlements in those territories is inconsistent with international law." In 2009, Hansel stated: “As far as I know, I don't think it has ever been rescinded or challenged by any legal officer of the United States government."

(9) In March 1979, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 446, which determined “that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”

(10) According to the Administration of former President Lyndon B. Johnson, "By setting up civilian or quasi-civilian outposts in the occupied areas the GOI adds serious complications to the eventual task of drawing up a peace settlement. Further, the transfer of civilians to occupied areas, whether or not in settlements which are under military control, is contrary to Article 49 of the Geneva Convention, which states 'The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.'"

(11) On July 1, 1969, then-U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Charles Yost under the Nixon Administration stated, “The expropriation or confiscation of land, the construction of housing on such land, the demolition or confiscation of buildings, including those having historic or religious significance, and the application of Israeli law to occupied portions of the city are detrimental to our common interests in [Jerusalem]. The United States considers that the part of Jerusalem that came under the control of Israel in the June war, like other areas occupied by Israel, is governing the rights and obligations of an occupying Power. Among the provisions of international law which bind Israel, as they would bind any occupier, are the provisions that the occupier has no right to make changes in laws or in administration other than those which are temporarily necessitated by his security interests, and that an occupier may not confiscate or destroy private property."

(12) On March 23, 1976, then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations William Scranton stated, “Substantial resettlement of the Israeli civilian population in occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under the convention and cannot be considered to have prejudged the outcome of future negotiations between the parties on the locations of the borders of states by the Middle East. Indeed, the presence of these settlements is seen by my government as an obstacle to the success of the negotiations for a just and final peace between Israel and its neighbors.”

(13) In April 1980, former President Jimmy Carter stated, “Our position on the settlements is very clear. We do not think they are legal.”

(14) In September 1982, the Reagan Plan stipulated, "the immediate adoption of a settlements freeze by Israel, more than any other action, could create the confidence needed for wider participation in these talks. Further settlement activity is in no way necessary for the security of Israel and only diminishes the confidence of the Arabs that a final outcome can be free and fairly negotiated.”

(15) On May 22, 1991, then-Secretary of State James Baker III stated, "I don’t think there is any greater obstacle to peace than settlement activity that continues not only unabated but at an advanced pace."

(16) On March 3, 1990, former President George H.W. Bush stated, “My position is that the foreign policy of the United States says we do not believe there should be new settlements in the West Bank or in East Jerusalem. And I will conduct that policy as if it’s firm, which it is, and I will be shaped in whatever decisions we make to see whether people can comply with that policy. And that’s our strongly held view.”

(17) On November 27, 1989, then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas Pickering stated, "Since the end of the 1967 war, the U.S. has regarded Israel as the occupying power in the occupied territories, which includes the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. The U.S. considers Israel's occupation to be governed by the Hague Regulations of 1907 and the 1949 Geneva Conventions concerning the protection of civilian populations under military occupation."

(18) On January 7, 2001, former President Bill Clinton stated. "The Israeli people also must understand that . . . the settlement enterprise and building bypass roads in the heart of what they already know will one day be part of a Palestinian state is inconsistent with the Oslo commitment that both sides negotiate a compromise."

(19) On October 20, 2005, former President George W. Bush stated "Israel should not undertake any activity that contravenes its road map obligations, or prejudices the final status negotiations with regard to Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem. This means that Israel must remove unauthorized posts and stop settlement expansion"

(20) On March 24, 2005, then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated, "Now, our position on settlement activity has not changed. We have said to the Israelis that they have obligations under the roadmap, they have obligations not to increase settlement activity."

(21) On May 18, 2009, President Barack Obama stated: “Settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward.”

(22) On May 27, 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expanded upon this statement, clarifying: “With respect to settlements, the President was very clear when Prime Minister Netanyahu was here. He wants to see a stop to settlements—not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions.”

(23) On April 17, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry testified to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs that due to Israel’s ongoing settlement expansion, “I believe the window for a two-state solution is shutting. I think we have some period of time: a year, a year and a half to two years—or it’s over."

(24) The Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 noted: “Attacks by extremist Israeli settlers against Palestinian residents, property, and places of worship in the West Bank continued and were largely unprosecuted according to UN and NGO sources. The UN Office of the Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs reported 399 attacks by extremist Israeli settlers that resulted in Palestinian injuries or property damage. Violent extremists, including Israeli settlers, vandalized five mosques and three churches in Jerusalem and the West Bank, according to data compiled by the UN.”

SEC. 3. STATEMENTS OF POLICY.
Congress—

(1) Reaffirms the determination of the Department of State that Israeli settlements are an obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians and “inconsistent with international law.”

(2) Supports the Administration in its effort to halt Israel’s expansion of illegal settlements.

(3) Calls on Israel to immediately comply with obligations to halt the expansion of its illegal settlements entered into through the April 2001 Report of the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee (“The Mitchell Report”), the April 2003 performance-based roadmap to a permanent two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (“The Roadmap”), and the November 2007 Joint Understanding Read by President Bush at the Annapolis Conference.

(4) Calls on the Administration to exercise its authority under the National Emergency Act, the International Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), and the Export Administration Act (EAA) to sanction and/or impose trade restrictions on entities, countries, and/or persons involved in the expansion of settlements in the Occupied West Bank in contravention of U.S. foreign policy

SEC. 4. REPORT ON 501(C)(3) ORGANIZATIONS PROVIDING MATERIAL SUPPORT FOR ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS.
(a) In general.—

Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the President shall submit to Congress a report on all organizations designated by the Internal Revenue Service as 501(c)(3) tax-deductible entities which provide directly or indirectly material support for illegal Israeli settlements.

(b) Matters To Be Included.—

The report required by subsection (a) shall include the following:

(1) Information from the organization’s publicly available Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax, including the name of the organization, its doing business as name, and its contact information.

(2) A determination by the Administration of the amount of tax-deductible money raised by these organizations to directly or indirectly provide material support for illegal Israeli settlements.

(3) A determination by the Administration of how this money was spent by these organizations to provide direct or indirect material support for illegal Israeli settlements.

(4) A determination by the Administration if any of these organizations are not in compliance with the Internal Revenue Service’s Racially Nondiscriminatory Policy with respect to private schools.

(5) A determination by the Administration if any of these organizations are not in compliance with the Exempt Purposes of 501(c)(3) organizations, as defined by the Internal Revenue Service.

SEC. 5. REPORT ON ISRAELI SETTLEMENT EXPANSION.
(a) In general.—

Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and quarterly thereafter, the President shall submit to Congress a report on the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and Israel’s compliance with its previous commitments to freeze settlement expansion.

(b) Matters To Be Included.—

The report required by subsection (a) shall include the following:

(1) Information on tenders, construction starts, land expropriations, and any other measures pertaining to the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory of the West Bank and East Jerusalem undertaken in the previous quarter.

(2) A determination by the Administration if the Government of Israel was in compliance with its previous commitments to freeze settlement expansion in the previous quarter.

(3) A determination by the Administration of American corporations and nonprofit entities that directly or indirectly invested in, marketed homes in, donated money, goods or services, or in any other way furthered the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements or contributed to the maintenance of existing ones.

SEC. 6. DEFINITIONS.
In this Act:

(1) Illegal Israeli settlements.—The term “illegal Israeli settlements” refers to any temporary or permanent housing for Israeli civilians, whether authorized by the Government of Israel or not, in Occupied Palestinian Territory in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories beyond the “Green Line”—Israel’s armistice line with Jordan as of June 4, 1967.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Urgent: Anti-BDS Bill Up for Vote Tomorrow

We just learned that Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) will introduce an anti-BDS amendment to a bill in the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday. While the exact text isn’t public yet, the amendment will be similar to a bill—S.619, the United States-Israel Trade Enhancement Act of 2015—he introduced last month.

You can find the complete action alert here with talking points to call Senator Cardin here

After you call Senator Cardin, please also call the other members of the Senate Finance Committee. If your Senator is on the committee, make sure to mention you are a constituent.

Committee Leadership

Senator Orrin Hatch
(202) 224-5251

Senator Ron Wyden
(202) 224-5244

Republicans

Chuck Grassley, IA 
202-224-3744

Mike Crapo, ID 
(202) 224-6142

Pat Roberts, KS 
202-224-4774

Michael B. Enzi, WY 
(202) 224-3424

John Cornyn, TX 
202-224-2934

John Thune, SD 
(202) 224-2321

Richard Burr, NC 
(202) 224-3154

Johnny Isakson, GA 
(202) 224-3643

Rob Portman, OH 
202-224-3353

Patrick J.  Toomey, PA 
(202) 224-4254

Dan Coats, IN 
(202) 224-5623

Dean Heller, NV 
202-224-6244

Tim Scott, SC
(202) 224-6121

Democrats

Charles E. Schumer, NY 
(202) 224-6542

Debbie Stabenow, MI 
(202) 224-4822

Maria Cantwell, WA 
(202) 224-3441

Bill Nelson, FL 
202-224-5274

Robert Menendez, NJ 
202.224.4744

Thomas R. Carper, DE 
(202) 224-2441

Benjamin L. Cardin, MD 
(202) 224-4524

Sherrod  Brown, OH 
(202) 224-2315

Michael F. Bennet, CO 
202-224-5852

Robert P. Casey, Jr., PA 
(202) 224-6324

Mark R. Warner, VA
202-224-2023

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Dozens of Organizations Commend Virginia State Bar for Decision to Cancel Trip to Israel



April 1, 2015

Virginia State Bar
Mr. Kevin E. Martingayle, President
1111 East Main Street, Suite 700
Richmond, VA 23219-3565

Dear Mr. Martingayle,

We write to commend the Virginia State Bar for its decision to cancel its Midyear Legal Seminar in Jerusalem. By cancelling the planned seminar, the Virginia State Bar has reaffirmed its commitment to the principles of equality enshrined in U.S. law.

In thanking the Virginia State Bar, we agree with the sentiments expressed by Representative Keith Ellison in 2013 when he stated, “American citizens deserve to travel without fear of being turned away based on their race, religion, or countries they have visited.”

Israel’s routine discrimination against U.S. citizens entering Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory is both well documented and ongoing. In the process of denying entry to U.S. citizens, Israel often subjects them to humiliating searches, intensive interrogations, and invasions of personal privacy, including demanding access to private email accounts.

Those affected by Israel’s policies include
teachers, college students, world-renowned university professors, architects, clergy, interfaith delegations, people visiting sick relatives, married couples giving birth, humanitarian workers, human rights monitors, and descendants of signers of the U.S. constitution. In recent years, Israel’s refusal to end its discrimination against U.S. citizens prevented it from entering the Visa Waiver Program and prompted strong condemnations from lawmakers, the administration, and human rights organizations.

In March of 2014, State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “The Department of Homeland Security and State remain concerned with the unequal treatment that Palestinian Americans and other Americans of Middle Eastern origin experience at Israel’s border and checkpoints.”

In 2013, sixteen Members of Congress wrote to then-Israeli Ambassador Oren, saying, "we are concerned that Israeli border officials are disproportionally singling out, detaining, and denying entry to Arab and Muslim Americans." In their letter, Members of Congress quoted a spokesperson for Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who said, “we expect all American citizens to be accorded the rights that any other American citizen would be accorded...there are no second classes.”

As an association that prides itself on diversity and respect for equal rights, members of the Virginia State Bar should reasonably expect to have their civil rights upheld in the course of pursuing professional development opportunities. As you referenced in your cancellation notification, one additional issue with the planned seminar was the insufficient number of individuals who had signed-up to attend. In all likelihood, the low participation rate reflected a justifiable reluctance among practicing attorneys to subject themselves to mistreatment based on their race, religion, or political opinions. Had the gathering occurred as planned, some members of Virginia’s esteemed bar would have undoubtedly suffered discrimination and humiliation at the hands of Israeli border officials and possibly been denied entry outright.

Furthermore, given that membership in the Virginia State Bar is required for all practicing attorneys in the state, it is incumbent upon the association to avoid activities which may inherently discriminate against its members. Indeed, such action is required under the Virginia Human Rights Act and federal statutes governing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, and disability.

Again, we commend the Virginia State Bar for its commitment to upholding the civil rights of its diverse membership. We look forward to the day when everyone living in Israel/Palestine will enjoy equal treatment under the law regardless of race or religion; and all who desire to visit may do so without fear of discrimination or humiliation.

Sincerely,


American Muslims for Palestine
Christian Peacemaker Teams – Palestine
Friends of Sabeel North America
Institute for Policy Studies – New Internationalism Project
Jewish Voice for Peace
Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land
Methodist Federation for Social Action
National Lawyers Guild – International Committee
Palestine Solidarity Legal Support
Peace Action
United Methodist Kairos Response
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
US Palestinian Community Network


Local and Regional Organizations:
14 Friends of Palestine
Al-Nakba Awareness Project
Bay Area Women in Black
Birmingham Peace Project
Bryn Mawr Peace Coalition
Cape Codders for Peace and Justice
Carolina Peace Resource Center
Citizens for Justice in the Middle East – Kansas City
Coloradans for Justice in Palestine
Committee for Justice in Palestine at The Ohio State University
Committee for Palestinian Rights
Corvallis-Albany Friends of Middle East Peace
Friends of Palestine – Wisconsin
Hilton Head for Peace
Interfaith Council for Peace in the Middle East
Israel-Palestine Task Force, California Nevada Conference, United Methodist Church
Jews Say No, NYC
Jewish Voice for Peace – Bay Area Chapter
Jewish Voice for Peace – Boston Chapter
Jewish Voice for Peace – DC Metro Chapter
Jewish Voice for Peace – St. Louis Chapter
Massachusetts Peace Action
MidEast: Just Peace
Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign
Peace for Palestine – West Boston
St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee
Upper New York United Methodist Task Force on Israel Palestine
Vancouver for Peace

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Join One Book, Many Communities: Mornings in Jenin Campaign

Organize a Discussion in Your Community!     


US Campaign member group 
Librarians and Archivists with Palestine is excited to announce their newest campaign: "One Book, Many Communities: Mornings in Jenin." 

"One Book" is an international reading and discussion initiative drawing inspiration from the "one book, one town" idea that brings people together to talk about a common book. 

LAP has selected the historical saga Mornings in Jenin by Palestinian-American author and activist Susan Abulhawa as their first "One Book" title, and discussions will be held in January 2015 around the world.

Mornings in Jenin is a sweeping, heart-wrenching historical saga about four generations of the Abulheja family. From Jenin to Jerusalem to Beirut to Philadelphia, the novel follows the family from its displacement from Ein Hod village in 1948 through love and loss over decades of life in Palestine and the diaspora.


Can you organize or host a Mornings in Jenin discussion at your library, local bookstore, Students for Justice in Palestine chapter, school, place of worship, or home this January?

LAP has put together a toolkit to help you plan your event with ideas about how to hold great discussions that will spark interest in further exploration of Palestinian history and culture. They will also help with promotion by listing your event on their "One Book" site

You can purchase the book directly from Susan Abulhawa here and use the promo code "lap1book" for a discount. 

This is a great opportunity to create a broader awareness and understanding of Palestinian history and the struggle for self-determination. If you have ideas or questions, please email librarians2palestine@gmail.com.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Continuing Struggle for Palestinian Rights

The US Campaign held its 13th Annual National Organizers' Conference, The Mainstreaming of BDS & Continuing Struggle for Palestinian Rights, September 19-21 in San Diego.

Below is the recording of our closing panel The Continuing Struggle for Palestinian RightsPanelists shared their thoughts about moving forward following this year that has brought both so many important BDS wins but also yet another Israeli war on Gaza.

Speakers:

  • Christian Ramirez, Human Rights Director at Alliance San Diego
  • Reem Assil, Arab Resource & Organizing Center
  • Robin D.G. Kelley, serves on the Advisory Board of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel 
  • Hind Awwad, former coordinator with the Palestinian BDS National Committee
  • Moderator: Dina Omar, founding member of National Students for Justice in Palestine 

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream