April 2006 Statement

The United States Section of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (US WILPF) deplores the US government's continued use of military force to secure access to resources and to maintain control over other nations. The illegal wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and US military and economic support for Israel's occupation of Palestine have destabilized the region, caused extensive human suffering, and destroyed the infrastructure of the occupied territories.

In order to build peace on justice in the Middle East, it is imperative that the US immediately stop using the military as its lead actor. Ending the violence in occupied territories and creating a civilian economic infrastructure requires that the people of the region are free from detrimental outside pressure, including the US-controlled IMF and World Bank. Using the expertise of the appropriate agencies of the United Nations, the people who live in the occupied territories should determine their own future.

Building this peace requires equal involvement of women in every aspect of conflict and post-conflict negotiations. A feminist, gender-conscious perspective is needed to effectively end violence and create a culture of peace. We therefore demand the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 in the Middle East.

We believe in the right of all peoples to self-determination. We support the peaceful existence of both Israel and Palestine and work to support our sister sections in those countries. We applaud our sisters in Palestine for participating in a democratic election process.

We acknowledge the difficulty some might have in accepting the Hamas victory in the elections; however, we believe it is necessary and right to continue diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Authority. The United States government should continue its humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people and should stop promoting diplomatic, financial, and humanitarian isolation of the Palestinian people. While we do not agree with the official Hamas party platform, we believe Hamas politicians are willing to work towards peace with their neighbors. Isolating the Palestinians because of their electoral decisions will hasten the collapse of their shaky economy and increase their desperation.

Israel is the most heavily armed country in the Middle East, and the only one with nuclear weapons. It serves as a surrogate for the US both in the region and in global affairs. Therefore, challenging US policy in the Middle East is intricately linked to challenging Israeli foreign policy.

The Bush administration created the so-called “War on Terrorism” to instill fear as the premise for US foreign policy. Basic human rights are being curtailed in the US and abroad to propagate this lie. The administration uses the USA Patriot Act and the denial of rights granted by the Geneva Conventions to justify its actions. We call upon Congress to rescind the Patriot Act and to investigate all imprisonments caused by this fear-mongering.

The Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land taken in the 1967 war, its ever expanding settlements within the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and its construction of a security wall could not occur without the financial, diplomatic, and military support of the United States. No country or people are made secure by these actions.

We call upon Congress to stop funding the military occupation of Palestine. We condemn the use of Caterpillar equipment in the destruction of Palestinian homes and murder of civilians trying to protect those homes. We call upon the US government to stop funding and facilitating the sale of Caterpillar equipment to the Israeli government.

We urge our elected officials to realize that the wall being built within Palestine by Israel provides security for no one. Therefore, we insist that our government respect the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice regarding the wall. We call upon our government to immediately condemn the building of the wall and to cease all aid that contributes to its construction.

We demand that the US government recognize the importance and primacy of international law, in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We call upon the US government to work toward the full implementation of all relevant United Nations resolutions, in particular General Assembly Resolution 194 and Security Council Resolutions 242, 252, and 338. These resolutions call for Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders, for the "Right of Return" of Palestinians and for Jerusalem to be a shared capital.

We recognize that the apparent complexity of the situation makes building a grassroots movement to challenge US policy in Israel / Palestine difficult. We recognize that the corporate media distorts the situation on the ground in Israel / Palestine and does not accurately explain the US-Israeli alliance. We urge people to read, watch, and listen to alternative forms of media.

We are sensitive to feelings of Israelis and pro-Israeli Americans who are fearful for the future of the State of Israel – and we will continue to find ways of getting the WILPF positions across to them. Criticizing the right-wing actions of the government of the State of Israel is not anti-Semitic.

We are also sensitive to feelings of Palestinians and members of Palestinian solidarity groups who express impatience and opposition to actions of Israel and the U.S.

US WILPF is working on this issue through our Women Challenge US Policy: Building Peace on Justice in the Middle East (WCUSP) Campaign. We are on the cusp of change in public opinion and government action. We look forward to continued collaboration with other US peace groups, including United for Peace and Justice, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, as well as religious / ethnic groups.

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