Abrahamic Initiative on the Middle East

Grounded in Abrahamic Theology

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 To the Honorable David Price                                                           February 26, 2018
      US House of Representatives
      4th district, N Carolina 

Dear Congressman Price                                                                             

    Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you in your Chapel Hill-Durham office February 22, 2018 to discuss the plight of Palestinian children detained under the Israeli military system and DACA recipients here in the U.S.

     We also thank you for the interventions you led with congressional colleagues to object to   the Trump administration’s destructive foreign policy actions that have setback Israeli and Palestinian prospects for a fairly mediated, negotiated resolution to the conflict and the need to continue financial aid to Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

     Although you said you would not be co sponsoring HR 4391 Protecting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act, we urge you to reconsider.  We understand your approach is to get concerned colleagues in congress to contact the US Department of State to work with Israeli counterparts to end these practices. 

     In July, 2015 you and Representatives Jan Schakowsky, John Yarmuth and Steve Cohen wrote to then Secretary of state John Kerry asking for assurance that “Palestinian children would not suffer mistreatment while in custody.“   The reason we reiterate our concern now  is because the practices of abuse and abrogation of basic legal protections that cause Palestinian children  to suffer in the Israeli military detention continue to be a systemic problem.  Israeli human rights organizations attest to this.*

        The current administration has underfunded Dept of State crippling them from engaging in diplomatic work they did under the previous administration. The Trump administration has thus far made matters worse between Israel and Palestine leadership.  Thus, what can we expect from the current administration? Furthermore, we doubt that Israeli counterparts are any more likely to cooperate under Mr. Netanyahu’s government given expansion of their military occupation/colonization policies. 

          HR 4391  offers guidelines to assist US State Dept in needed points of discussion with Israel because it  outlines specific practices that must be addressed, changed and includes reporting requirements from Dept of State.   HR 4391 would prevent US tax dollars to support Israeli military detention, interrogation or ill treatment of Palestinian children in violation of international humanitarian laws: torture,or engage in    or degrading treatment; use physical violence or psychological abuse; keep children incommunicato or receive administrative detention; use solitary confinement; deny parental or legal counsel during interrogations; force or use coercion to obtain a confession, including in another language. 

      HR 4391 calls for specific responsibilities of Department of State to annually submit to Congress: (1) certification that no funds expended in the previous fiscal year to Israel were used to support any of these activities or (2) if State Department cannot make such certification, a report describing each activity and the amount of funds used by Israel in violation of this bill. 

       As US tax payers and human rights advocates we do not support systematic trauma inflicted on hundreds of Palestinian youth in the Israeli military detention system.  Credible  International and Israeli human rights organizations* have monitored and documented evidence of human rights abuses suffered by Palestinian children under the Israeli military detention system. ( estimates: 10,000 since 2000 )

     Data from Israeli military courts obtained by Israeli daily Ha’aretz  (2011) reveal that 99.7% of military court proceedings end in convictions!! Neighboring Israeli settlers’ children are afforded access to full legal counsel and protections in civilian Israeli courts, not military courts.

     Two different legal systems in the same territory on the sole basis of one’s nationality is discriminatory and not in American interests to ignore, minimize or support this policy of our ally, Israel.

 The policy of Israeli military Detention of Palestinian children has created a dangerous, ugly and unjust political reality in the occupied territories – a reality in which two populations live on the same land, under different legal systems, separate and entirely unequal, with the governing authority serving one population at the expense of the other.  (fmep.org)

            “One population (Israeli settlers) is comprised of privileged Israeli citizens, enjoying the benefits of a prosperous, powerful state, with their rights guaranteed by a democratic government accountable to their votes.   The other population is comprised of disenfranchised Palestinians, living under foreign military occupation explicitly designed to protect and promote the interests not of Palestinian residents of the territories, but of Israeli settlers” (Foundation for Middle East Peace  fmep/org) 

HR 4391 has broad national support:

        American Friends Service Committee, Amnesty International USA, Arab American Institute, Center for Constitutional Rights, Church World Service, Churches for Middle East Peace, Defense for Children International - Palestine, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, Jewish Voice for Peace, Mennonite Central Committee, Presbyterian Church (USA), the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR), and United Methodist General Board of Church and Society.

    As well as local support (Coalition for Peace with Justice, AIME, Triangle JVP, OCPC  and area church communities)

    We want to thank you for your ongoing support of Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and encourage you to continuing working vigorously for legislation that will protect these young people.  We join you in deploring how their fate has been linked to other legislation that would spend billions of unnecessary funds for extending the border wall, undercut family reunification, and prevent immigration from underrepresented nations. We hope that an acceptable compromise can be found that will prevent deportation of these Dreamers while preserving as much as possible of our current immigration policies.

     We appreciate that you listened to our concerns.

     Thank you for your service to the people of N Carolina as well as your leadership in the Congress on numerous issues both domestic and global.

 

    Sincerely,

 

    Representatives from the Orange County Peace Coalition

 

The Orange County Peace Coalition is composed of members from a number of human rights and peace groups/organizations in Orange County.   The mission of the Peace Coalition of Orange County is to act as a forum for groups concerned with Peace, Justice, and Environmental issues.  It serves to facilitate exchange of information, coordination of activities, sharing of resources, and coming together to work on projects as deemed appropriate by each of the interested groups.

 

        * https://www.btselem.org/statistics/minors_( see “unprotected: detention of Palestinian

        teens in East Jerusalem)  a Joint report by HaMoked and B'Tselem, Summary, October 2017

         https://www.btselem.org/publications/summaries/201710_unprotected

 ‘”When it comes to Palestinian minors from ( Occupied )East Jerusalem, the safeguards set out in the Youth Law are routinely rendered hollow and meaningless by police officers, prison guards and judges.” many examples listed.”