Tag Archives: Arabs

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

Palestinian Homeland, 65 Years, 1947-2012


Some Significant Events:

  1. For millennia Palestine has been home to Palestinians and their forebears.
  2. On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly voted to divide Palestine into two states, one for the Jews and one for the Arabs; Jerusalem was to remain under international control.  [‘One Palestine Complete — Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate,’ Tom Segev (New York:  Henry Holt and Company — Metropolitan Books, 1999) p. 496.]
  3. On May 14, 1948, Israel declared its independence.
  4. From 1948 until the June War of 1967, the Gaza Strip was controlled by Egypt;  the West Bank and East Jerusalem were governed by Jordan. [‘Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict – A Primer,’ Phyllis Bennis (Massachusetts:  Olive Branch Press — Interlink Publishing Group, Inc., 2009) p. 14.]
  5. The West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza were captured by Israel in the Six Day War (June 5 – 10, 1967).
  6. United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 (SI/RES/242) was adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council on November 22, 1967, in the aftermath of the Six Day War.  It called for “the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:  (i) WITHDRAWAL OF ISRAELI ARMED FORCES FROM TERRITORIES  OCCUPIED IN THE RECENT CONFLICT; (ii) TERMINATION OF ALL CLAIMS OR STATES OF BELLIGERENCY ….” [‘United Nations Security Council Resolution 242’ (Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia)].
  7. The Government of Israel has built and moved Israelis into settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories captured in the 1967 war.  This is in contravention of the 1949 Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention on Rules of War which states that “THE OCCUPYING POWER SHALL NOT DEPORT OR TRANSFER PART OF ITS OWN CIVILIAN POPULATION INTO A TERRITORY IT OCCUPIES.”
  8. “More than 130 countries voted on Thursday” (November 29, 2012) “to upgrade Palestine to a nonmember observer state of the United Nations…”[New York Times, November 30, 2012.]

– Barbara Walker
for the Granny Peace Brigade