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February 12th, 2014

Needed: An Honest Broker

Reuters / Nayef Haslamoun

Reuters / Nayef Haslamoun

(Click on photos for larger images.)

In connection with the ongoing Kerry-Israel/Palestine Peace Talks the GPB decided we should seek advice on practical action we might take to encourage the U.S. Government to act as a truly honest broker in this so vital process.  Accordingly, I addressed a letter, below, to each of the following five whose concern with U.S. Middle East involvement has been evident, individual openings as indicated:

  • President Bill Clinton, William J. Clinton Foundation – referred to his statement “America Cannot Let Israel-Palestine Conflict Fester.”
  • Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) – referred to his concern with cause and effect in the Israel/Palestine conflict and to his discussions on high level on Middle East peace process.
  • Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) – referred to his discussion on the U.S. as broker in the Israel/Palestine peace process.
  • Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) – referred to his support of the petition “Tell Congress:  Don’t Attack Syria.”
  • Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA) – referred to his visit to Israel, West Bank, and Gaza, and to is views on efforts to move forward the peace process.

I write here expressing my own views and as a member of a peace-focused group, the Granny Peace Brigade.  I am seeking your suggestions/recommendations for any practical action you think we might pursue in urging our government to work as a true third party broker in the Kerry Israel-Palestine peace talks (not as a broker favoring the basic aims of one party).

UNRWA  -  A boy hangs on to what is left of his house after the 2008-09 Israeli military incursion into Gaza.

UNRWA – A boy hangs on to what is left of his house after the 2008-09 Israeli military incursion into Gaza.

How best to further the U.S. playing an impartial role (notwithstanding the 1975 letter from President Gerald Ford to Prime Minister Ytzhak Rabin which in effect made American diplomatic initiatives in future Middle East peace negotiations conditional on prior approval by Israel — reference, Rashid Khalidi, “Brokers of Deceit,” page 8) in the cause of fair negotiation and establishment of peace?

I should mention that the Granny Peace Brigade works independently and with other groups undertaking activities such as visiting members of Congress to lobby for the lessening of our military action and for increase in our use of diplomacy for conflict resolution, focusing public awareness on the need to channel government funds for development of our human resources and national infrastructure, organizing teach-ins on current matters.

UNWRA - An estimated 350 children were killed and thousands were injured during the 2008-09 Israeli military operation in Gaza.

UNWRA – An estimated 350 children were killed and thousands were injured during the 2008-09 Israeli military operation in Gaza.

A retired United Nations staff member, I worked in Africa and the Middle East for 18 years.  If I express here concern about matters that affect Palestinians negatively, it is because many know of the situation and events in Israel/Palestine principally from an Israeli point of view and many do not realize that it is ancestral home also to Palestinians.  Therefore, as I see it, settlements, including, of course, Hebron; East Jerusalem; the West Bank portion of the Jordan River Valley (and in this connection the recent reports of President Mahmoud Abbas’s indication that it is reasonable to allow Israelis to withdraw gradually from the Jordan Valley is noted); the wall built into portions of West Bank land all should be dealt with, real consideration being given to Palestinian needs and rights.  AN ETHNOCENTRIC APPROACH ON OUR PART MUST BE AVOIDED.  We (our government) must make a continuing conscientious effort in this regard.

UNWRA - Two children fill up bottles of water to take home.

UNWRA – Two children fill up bottles of water to take home.

A just resolution of the conflict for the people of Israel/Palestine is so long overdue.  I do thank you for any advice you may have.  It will be very much appreciated.

Very truly yours,
 – Barbara Walker

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