3rd Thursday Alert: Tell Congress to support peace, and not to undermine it

Many advocates urged President Obama in his final weeks in office to take firm action to stop Israeli settlements. On December 23, the United States abstained from a vote on UN Security Council Resolution 2334 which highlighted and called for a halt to Israel’s settlement activity in occupied Palestinian territory.

3rd_Thursday_logo.jpgUNSC 2334 reaffirms that Israeli settlements are “a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle” to peace, calls on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory,” and stresses that the Security Council “will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations.”

The resolution also calls for “immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians including acts of terror,” addresses other concerns including “incitement and inflammatory rhetoric,” and urges intensified efforts to achieve “without delay a comprehensive, just and lasting peace…” The US abstention allowed the resolution to pass unanimously with the other 14 members of the Security Council voting in favor.

Rather than supporting the US’s action on this UNSC resolution which is in keeping with US policy on settlements, Congress is working hard to undermine it. In early January the House passed a resolution objecting to the UNSC resolution, and the Senate has a similar resolution in the works.

Of even greater concern, because it would carry the force of law should it pass, a Senate bill introduced on January 12, called the “Safeguard Israel Act” would stop US contributions to the UN “until the President certifies to Congress that United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 has been repealed.” Not only would this bill undermine the US and international effort to hold Israel accountable for its settlement activity, it would harm efforts across a broad spectrum of UN work that benefits the US and countries around the world.

In addition to the efforts to condemn or rescind UNSC 2334, a number of initiatives are underway in Congress to support quick action on moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move the new administration has been outspoken in supporting. Outside a comprehensive peace agreement, such a unilateral move by the US could be dangerous. A presidential waiver has allowed each new president to stop this potentially volatile move from taking place, but new efforts in Congress would remove the waiver, paving the way for the US Embassy to be relocated to Jerusalem. At least one of these proposals related to the embassy’s location would also limit by 50 percent State Department fiscal-year 2017 allocations for security, construction and maintenance of other U.S. embassies.

Contact your Senators and Representative and let them know you want them to support, not undermine, peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Let them know you oppose all efforts to criticize, condemn, or undermine USNC 2334, and urge them to halt all efforts to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem outside a comprehensive peace agreement.

Contact your Senators and Representative today!

For more on the ramifications of moving the US Embassy, see "Moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem: A Hard Look at the Arguments & Implications," by Danny Seidemann.

For more on the recently-held Paris Peace Conference, click here.

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Please feel free to use this sample letter:

Dear Senator/Representative,

I am writing to express my concern about several Congressional initiatives that I believe would undermine peace between Israelis and Palestinians and which I therefore urge you to oppose.

First, I am concerned by Congressional attempts to criticize, condemn or undermine UNSC 2334, a resolution that is in keeping with US policy on Israeli settlements.

UNSC 2334 reaffirms that Israeli settlements are “a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle” to peace, calls on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory,” and stresses that the Security Council “will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations.”

The resolution also calls for “immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians including acts of terror,” addresses other concerns including “incitement and inflammatory rhetoric,” and urges intensified efforts to achieve “without delay a comprehensive, just and lasting peace…”

I urge you to oppose all efforts to undermine this resolution, along with efforts to cut off US funding of the UN in response to it. Cutting off funding to the UN would harm efforts across a broad spectrum of UN work that benefits the US and countries around the world.

Finally, I urge you to oppose all efforts, outside of a comprehensive peace agreement, to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as such move would be potentially volatile and dangerous.

I write as a person of faith, seeking peace, hoping and praying for the welfare of Israelis and Palestinians alike, and searching for positive US actions to that end. For this work, and all the efforts of the new Congress, you have my prayers.

With appreciation,


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