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URGENT: House Vote Today against Palestinian Statehood

December 15th, 2010

We are outraged to learn that Rep. Howard Berman, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is trying to push through Congress today a resolution “condemning unilateral declarations of a Palestinian state.” 

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” the worst stumbling block to freedom’s advance is the person who “paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's [or woman’s] freedom.”

Yet, this is exactly what Rep. Berman’s resolution seeks to do: subjugate Palestinian freedom and self-determination to Israel’s indefinite timeline.  As MLK said, “‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’”

We’re asking you to take action now because this resolution will be voted on today.  (By the way, the text of the resolution isn’t even public yet, but we got our hands on a copy of it, which we’re publishing below.)  Here’s what you can do:

1. Sign our petition to Rep. Berman letting him know that it is wrong for the United States to put a timeline on Palestinian freedom and self-determination. 

If we get 5,000 signatures before the vote, we will hand deliver the signatures to Rep. Berman to let him know in person how outraged you are by his resolution.  Help us reach our goal now by signing the petition and then spreading the word.

2.  Call your Representative and ask him/her to vote “no” or “present” on this resolution and to speak against it on the House floor.  After you sign the petition, you will be redirected to a page where you can enter your zip code and then get the phone number for your Representative.

Use one or more of the talking points below when calling your Representative, but be sure to call now before the vote!


TALKING POINTS

* I urge Representative X to vote “no” or “present” on the resolution condemning Palestinian statehood, and ask him/her to speak against the resolution on the House floor.

* It is wrong for Congress to condemn Palestinian attempts to achieve freedom and self-determination.  Congress has no business putting a timeline on Palestinian human rights.

* Israel has shown repeatedly that it prefers to colonize Palestinian land, rather than end its illegal 43-year military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip and negotiate in good faith to establish an independent Palestinian state.  Under these circumstances, Palestinians cannot be blamed for seeking alternatives ways to establish an independent state. 

* This resolution paternalistically demands Palestinians “resume direct negotiations with Israel immediately” even while Israel continues to illegally colonize Palestinian land supposedly designated for a future Palestinian state.

* This resolution calls on the Administration to meddle in the internal affairs of other countries by opposing the recognition of a Palestinian state by other nations.

* The text of this resolution was kept secret prior to the vote, the Obama Administration probably had no time to offer its opinion on it, there were no hearings about it, and the public had little chance to offer its opinion on it.  The process by which this resolution is being brought to a vote is fundamentally anti-democratic.


TEXT OF RESOLUTION

Supporting a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and condemning unilateral measures to declare or recognize a Palestinian state, and for other purposes.

Whereas a true and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties;

Whereas Palestinian leaders have repeatedly threatened to declare unilaterally a Palestinian state and to seek recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations and other international forums;

Whereas Palestinian leaders are reportedly pursuing a coordinated strategy of seeking recognition of a Palestinian state within the United Nations, in other international forums, and from a number of foreign governments;

Whereas on November 24, 2010, Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization, wrote to the President of Brazil, requesting that the Government of Brazil recognize a Palestinian state, with the hope that such an action would encourage other countries likewise to recognize a Palestinian state;

Whereas on December 1, 2010, in response to Abbas’s letter, the Government of Brazil unilaterally recognized a Palestinian state;

Whereas on December 6, 2010, the Government of Argentina announced its decision to recognize unilaterally a Palestinian state, and the Government of Uruguay announced that it would unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state in 2011;

Whereas, on March 11, 1999, the Senate adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 5, and on March 16, 1999, the House of Representatives adopted House Concurrent Resolution 24, both of which resolved that ‘‘any attempt to establish Palestinian statehood outside the negotiating process will invoke the strongest congressional opposition’’;

Whereas Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stated on October 20, 2010, that ‘‘There is no substitute for face-to-face discussion and, ultimately, for an agreement that leads to a just and lasting peace.’’;

Whereas, on November 5, 2010, United States Department of State Spokesman Mark Toner, responding to a questions about the Palestinians possibly taking action to seek recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations, said, ‘‘[T]he only way that we’re going to get a comprehensive peace is through direct negotiations, and anything that might affect those direct negotiations we feel is not helpful and not constructive’’;

Whereas Secretary Clinton stated on November 10, 2010, that ‘‘we have always said and I continue to say that negotiations between the parties is the only means by which all of the outstanding claims arising out of the conflict can be resolved. . .There can be no progress until they actually come together and explore where areas of agreement are and how to narrow areas of disagreement. So we do not support unilateral steps by either party that could prejudge the outcome of such negotiations.’’;

Whereas on December 7, 2010, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley stated, ‘‘We don’t think that we should be distracted from the fact that the only way to resolve the core issues within the process is through direct negotiations.’’;

Whereas Secretary Clinton state on December 10, 2010, that “it is only a negotiated agreement between the parties that will be sustainable”;

Whereas the Government of Israel has made clear that it would reject a Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence, has repeatedly affirmed that the conflict should be resolved through direct negotiations with the Palestinians, and has repeatedly called on the Palestinian leadership to return to direct negotiations;  and

Whereas efforts to bypass negotiations and to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state, or to appeal to the United Nations or other international forums or to foreign governments for recognition of a Palestinian state, would violate the underlying principles of the Oslo Accords, the Road Map, and other relevant Middle East peace process efforts;

Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1)     Reaffirms its strong support for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resulting in two states, a democratic, Jewish state of Israel and a viable, democratic Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace, security, and mutual recognition;

(2)    reaffirms its strong opposition to any attempt to establish or seek recognition of a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians;

(3)    urges Palestinian leaders to—

(A)     cease all efforts at circumventing the negotiation process, including efforts to gain recognition of a Palestinian state from other nations, within the United Nations, and in other international forums prior to achievement of a final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, and calls upon foreign governments not to extend such recognition; and

(B)    resume direct negotiations with Israel immediately;

(4) supports the Obama Administration’s opposition to a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state;

(5) Calls upon the Administration to:

(a) lead a diplomatic effort to persuade other nations to oppose a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state and to oppose recognition of a Palestinian state by other nations, within the United Nations, and in other international forums prior to achievement of a final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians; and

(b) affirm that the United States would (i) deny recognition to any unilaterally declared Palestinian state and (ii) veto any resolution by the United Nations Security Council to establish or recognize a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated by the two parties.