30 Dec 2008

Greens challenge Obama to press Israel to comply with international law

• Greens challenge Obama to press Israel to comply with international law and end the illegal occupation of Gaza and other Palestinian lands

The Green Party of the United States calls for an immediate end to Israel’s bombing attacks on Gaza, which in the past four days has already caused at least 364 deaths, including Palestinian women and children, with hundreds more wounded.

“It’s clear that President Bush gave a green light for Israel’s massive and disproportionate display of force. The Green Party demands that the US seek a bilateral ceasefire, with immediate pressure on Israel to stop the bombardment and end the occupation,” said Rosa Clemente, the Green Party’s 2008 candidate for Vice President of the United States (http://www.rosaclemente.com).

Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party’s 2008 presidential candidate, had joined the Free Gaza Group (http://www.freegaza.org) on the SS Dignity, which sailed from Cyprus to deliver three tons of medicine and humanitarian aid to Gaza in defiance of an Israeli blockade. Ms. McKinney was safe after Israeli gunboats attempted to intercept the Dignity last night and one gunboat illegally rammed the vessel in international waters, 90 miles off the Gaza coast (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/30/israel-gaza-aid-ship). Despite damage sustained in the encounter, the Dignity has docked safely in Lebanon and Ms. McKinney is on her way to Beirut.

In an interview on CNN (http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2008/12/30/am.lebanon.aid.boat.mckinney.cnn), Cynthia McKinney said, “What we have gone through pales in comparison to what the people of the Gaza Strip are suffering.” Ms. McKinney is challenging President-elect Barack Obama to condemn Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

Greens noted that Hamas, the target of Israel’s aerial bombardment, was democratically elected in 2006, and that Israel and the US have been trying to remove Hamas from power, especially by attempting to spark a civil war between Hamas and Fatah.

Since its election, Hamas has repeatedly offered to talk with Israel, but Israel has rejected all such overtures. Hamas had observed a five-month truce that was broken on November 4 when Israeli Defense Forces killed five Palestinians. In retaliation, Hamas responded with missiles which over the last month have injured one Israeli and caused property damage. The Green Party categorically condemns all violence visited on unarmed civilians.

“Palestinians are living under an occupation that has continued despite numerous UN directives ordering Israel to withdraw. Israel’s latest lethal assault will only intensify the crisis and inflict further suffering on the Palestinian people. Two thirds of Gazans are refugees — some doubly so, from 1948 and 1967 — and all Gaza residents are living in conditions comparable to a medieval siege. Israel must comply with international law and ends its illegal military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, dismantle the illegal separation wall, make restitution to Palestinians whose lands have been seized, and recognize the Palestinian right of return. If President Obama wants to make history by resolving the Middle East conflict, he must press Israel to take these steps,” said Hajja Romi Elnagar, Louisiana Green and member of the Green Party’s International Committee (http://www.gp.org/committees/intl).

“The current assumption in the US media that this is a symmetrical conflict between equals is as absurd as the claim that Israel’s bombs are not threatening women and children. Israel is the world’s fourth most powerful military nation, a nuclear power that enjoys support from the US, while Palestinians are impoverished, with many living without electricity, water, food, and medicine for weeks,” said Ms. Elnagar.

As a result of the Israeli blockade, 80% of Gazans live on less than two dollars a day. Unemployment hovers at 50-60% in Gaza, with only 195 factories, reduced from 3,900 in 2005. Israel has barred the delivery of UN relief to Gazans.

The Green Party has called for an end to US military aid to Israel and supports the movement for international boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel until Israel ends the occupation, obeys international law (including Geneva Conventions and the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights), and guarantees full human rights for Palestinians. The party supports efforts by Palestinian and Israeli peace groups towards a nonviolent negotiated resolution to the conflict.

The Green Party also endorses complete regional (and, ultimately, global) nuclear disarmament to remove the threat of a nuclear exchange in the Middle East and Asia. Greens have expressed concern that Barack Obama will bow to demands from AIPAC and other pro-Israel lobbies and maintain the Clinton and Bush administrations’ uncritical support for Israel’s military objectives and human rights violations.

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