Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs
(LOGA)

122 C Street N.W., Suite 125
Washington, D.C. 20001
Tel: 202-783-7507     
loga@elca.org

Action Alert:  Updated February 09, 2004

International Observers Needed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Support is growing for the deployment of multinational observers to promote peace, justice and security in the Occupied Territories.  Observers would help to monitor the compliance of the Palestinians and Israelis with international human rights and humanitarian law as a means of enhancing protection for civilians.

David Kimche, director general of Israel's foreign ministry from 1980 to 1987, stated in a February 11, 2003 New York Times Op-Ed that "the greatest help Washington could give to Israel is, paradoxically, something the Palestinians have long wanted: an American-led delegation of observers in the territories, who would ensure that the Palestinian Authority is making a credible effort to end terrorism while also guarding against Israeli human rights violations."

According to Amnesty International, "There is no hope of a durable peace in the region unless it is based on the human rights of all. As a first sign of concrete commitment, international observers must be deployed in the region."

The Rev. John McCullough, Executive Director of Church World Service, and other U.S. church leaders visiting Israel, the West Bank and Gaza in December 2000 called for immediate action by the international community to provide protection for Palestinians under occupation.    (photo:  Mark Brown)

Churches have responded to the need for an international presence by establishing the "Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel" (EAPPI).  The mission of the EAPPI (an initiative of the World Council of Churches) is to accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their non-violent actions and concerted advocacy efforts to end the occupation. Participants of the programme monitor and report violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, support acts of non-violent resistance alongside local Christian and Muslim Palestinians and Israeli peace activists, offer protection through non-violent presence, engage in public policy advocacy and, in general, stand in solidarity with the churches and all those struggling against the occupation.

Your assistance is needed to help end the violence and promote a climate where negotiations to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict can take place. 

The idea of international observers has had a difficult time getting off the ground because of U.S. vetoes of United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for a protection mechanism for Palestinians and because of Israel’s unwillingness to agree to such an international intervention.

Please call, fax, or e-mail your U.S. Representative, U.S. Senators, and President Bush as soon as possible.

Ask them to:

House and Senate contact information

U.S. Capitol Switchboard: 
202-224-3121

The Honorable (Name)
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC  20515

The Honorable (Name)
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC  20510

President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC  20500
tel. 202-456-1111
President@whitehouse.gov

1)  support the deployment of multinational observers to promote peace, justice and security in the Occupied Territories. These observers should be charged with monitoring and reporting on Israeli and Palestinian compliance with human rights and international humanitarian law standards.  Ask your Members of Congress to urge the Bush Administration to support the deployment of multinational observers.

2) contact the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel and urge both to do all that they can to end the violence and intimidation, including suicide bombings, helicopter and fighter jet attacks, assassinations, mortar attacks, house demolitions, destruction of trees and other property, and torture while in detention.

3) contact the Government of Israel and insist that the Israeli military refrain from entering the premises of religious and humanitarian institutions.  Let churches, mosques, and synagogues be sanctuaries of peace, not armed strongholds of any side.  

In addition . . . items related to international humanitarian support

4)  The Israeli Ministry of the Interior (IMOI) has initiated policy changes that would deny continued work visas for the directors of international humanitarian organizations. The issue of humanitarian access to the Palestinian Territories is a matter of continuing concern for the Lutheran World Federation and many other organizations.

5) The December 22, 2002 decision of the Israeli District Court in Jerusalem to revoke a tax exemption agreement between the State of Israel and the LWF-operated Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) seriously jeopardizes the Lutheran World Federation's essential health care and vocational training activities in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.  Action Alert

6) More must be done to provide humanitarian relief and to protect the health workers in the West Bank and Gaza.  [Read this March 15, 2003, media release from international, Palestinian and Israeli health workers.] 

7) Humanitarian services provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency continue to be critically important.  The United States should continue economic support of UNRWA’s humanitarian efforts for the Palestinian people.  [Read this letter to Congress from Churches for Middle East Peace.] 

BACKGROUND:

ELCA Actions and Statements on the Middle East

March 16, 2003:  International Solidarity Movement (ISM) website - "Rachel Corrie, 23, was killed on 16 March when she was run over by an Israeli bulldozer. Rachel was trying to stop the bulldozer from demolishing the home of a Palestinian doctor in the Gaza Strip."

June 5, 2002:  Amnesty International Press Release - Israel / Occupied Territories / Palestinian Authority: International human rights observers needed to end the cycle of violence

April 2002:  Ecumenical Delegation to the Middle East

December 15, 2001:  BBC News - US blocks Mid-East observers

September 2001:  LOGA article on the need for international observers

August 2001:  The 2001 ELCA Churchwide Assembly (CWA), among other actions related to peace in the Middle East, encouraged advocacy for immediate international protection of Palestinian populations under occupation. The Assembly also affirmed the work of the Division for Global Mission and the Division for Church in Society in their efforts to organize an ecumenical response to the crisis in Palestine and Israel that includes: 1) accompanying Palestinians in nonviolent efforts to end the occupation; 2) mobilizing grassroots activists in the U.S. for prayer and advocacy; 3) developing and distributing congregational resources; and 4) engaging the public media concerning U.S. policy toward the Middle East.  2001 ELCA CWA action on the Middle East

March 28, 2001:  CNN.com/WORLD - U.S. vetoes U.N. observer force for West Bank, Gaza

December 2000:  Ecumenical Delegation to the Middle East

November 14, 2000:  Human Rights Watch - UN Should Monitor Rights in West Bank, Gaza; International Observer Mission Needed to Protect Civilians

  

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