Saturday, April 29, 2006

Statement of the American Friends Service Committee

All Life is Sacred: End the Killing and the Occupation April 4, 2002

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is gravely concerned about the deepening crisis in the Middle East. Even though currently the direct conflict is between the Israelis and Palestinians, we are concerned that this war will spread to other countries in the Middle East. It is our firm belief that there is no military solution and that violence will not bring a resolution to this conflict. Only by reducing violence can there be movement towards a diplomatic solution. Only through diplomacy can Israelis and Palestinians find a way to live together in peace and security within internationally recognized state borders, agreed to by the two parties.

The AFSC condemns all violence. We believe that every person is precious to God.

All killings must stop. Since the second Intifada began on September 29, 2000, more than 1,200 Palestinians and 400 Israelis have been killed and tens of thousands have been wounded. Just as there can be no justification for Palestinian suicide attacks against Israeli civilians, there can be no justification for Israeli military reprisals against Palestinian civilians. The humanitarian situation is rapidly deteriorating. Israel has engaged in widespread destruction of civil infrastructure, subjected the Palestinian civilian population to around the clock curfews, denied them access to food, water and medical services, and engaged in summary executions. All these violations are grave breaches of international humanitarian law as formulated in the Fourth Geneva Convention. We urge all signatories to this convention, including Israel and the U.S., to observe and implement its principles.

The Israeli military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is what sustains the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. The brutality of Israel’s occupation only makes the situation worse. This everyday violence pervades all aspects of civilian life and fuels Palestinian resistance. It prevents Palestinians from exercising their right to self-determination. Ending the occupation requires the implementation of United Nations Resolutions 242 (1967) and
338 (1973), obliging Israel to return to its June 4, 1967 borders.

*We call upon Israel to withdraw from all cities, towns, villages, and refugee camps.

*We call upon Israelis and Palestinians to stop all killings.

*We urge the US government, which has now openly supported an independent Palestinian state, to support an end to the occupation. In the meantime we ask the US government to support the placement of a United Nations international peacekeeping force in the West Bank and Gaza to protect the Palestinian people. *We encourage the international community, including the United Nations, to create a framework and to monitor negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, based on all relevant United Nations resolutions, human rights principles, and international law.
The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

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