ISRAEL-PALESTINE: Tell your elected officials to support peaceful solutions with Iran, in Syria

from the Faith Forum on Middle East Policy

NOTE: Pax Christi USA is a member of the Faith Forum. This is the “Third Thursday for Israel-Palestine” action for April. 

3rd Thurs graphic

Tell your elected officials to support peaceful solutions with Iran, in Syria: Don’t stand in the way of Iran negotiations, and do support urgent help for Yarmouk refugees

The first week of April brought great cause for celebration among all who support diplomacy as a path to a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue.  On April 2, a framework agreement was announced between Iran, the United States, and the other five countries – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – that have been working diligently to secure an arrangement that would block Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon and pave the way for the lifting of sanctions on Iran.   This historic milestone is to be followed by continued talks intended to culminate in a final, comprehensive deal by June 30.

This will be a stronger agreement to the extent that it enjoys the full support of our government — the congress and the administration.   Urge your members of congress to speak out in favor of the framework agreement and of ongoing talks to produce a final deal.    Ask them to refrain from sponsoring or voting for legislation that could jeopardize the talks by threatening new sanctions or otherwise tying the hands of the administration in the negotiations.

While Iran has taken center stage in congressional foreign policy debate, the Israeli-Palestinian situation has languished to the detriment of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Advocates must continue to press for constructive engagement aimed at ending the Israeli occupation and securing a just peace for both peoples.  At the same time, the real need for a livable situation on the ground must be addressed regardless of progress on a political solution.

The tragic plight of the refugees in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria is a reminder of the importance of lasting peace not only for the Palestinians but for all the people of the region.  Palestinians in the Yarmouk camp are part of the roughly five million Palestine refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) who live in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.  In the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian resolution, they remain stateless and unable to return to their original homes.

The situation in the Yarmouk camp is dire, as IS militants battle Syrian government forces, and civilians are trapped in the middle. Describing Yarmouk, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon reportedly said, “a refugee camp is beginning to resemble a death camp,” and he called for an end to the fighting, humanitarian access and safe passage for those wanting to leave.

UNRWA describes the horrific circumstances inside the camp:

Since 1 April, this residential area of Damascus where some 18,000 people have already been trapped for over two years has been engulfed by intense fighting.  The lives of civilians in Yarmouk have never been more profoundly threatened. Men, women and children – Syrians and Palestinians alike – are cowering in their battered homes in profound fear, desperate for security, food and water, deeply concerned by the grave perils that may yet come, as hostilities continue. It is virtually impossible for civilians to leave Yarmouk as any attempt to move in the open brings high risk.

Ask your elected officials to urgently support the UN secretary-general’s call. Ask them to do all they can to demand an end to the fighting, humanitarian access, and safe passage for those trapped in the Yarmouk camp.

Use this link from our partners at the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns to contact your Members of Congress now.

For more information:

Sample Letter/Script:

Dear Senator/Representative,

I am writing to express my concern about two critical issues related to Middle East peace:  The negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program and the dire situation of refugees in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria.  In both cases I urge you to support peaceful solutions – in the former by supporting the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, and the latter by supporting urgent help for the Yarmouk refugees.

First, as a person of faith who hopes for a peaceful world, I am heartened by the reaching of an historic framework agreement by Iran, the United States, and five other countries regarding Iran’s nuclear program.  As you know, this historic milestone is to be followed by continued talks intended to culminate in a final, comprehensive deal by June 30.

This will be a stronger agreement to the extent that it enjoys the full support of our government — the congress and the administration.   I urge you to speak out in favor of the framework agreement and of ongoing talks to produce a final deal.  I ask you to refrain from sponsoring or voting for legislation that could jeopardize the talks by threatening new sanctions or otherwise tying the hands of the administration in the negotiations.

Second, while the Iran issue has taken center stage, the Israeli-Palestinian situation has languished to the detriment of both Israelis and Palestinians.  In that regard, I bring to your attention the tragic plight of the refugees in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria.  Palestinians in the Yarmouk camp are part of the roughly five million Palestine refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) who live in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.  In the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian resolution, they remain stateless and unable to return to their original homes.

The situation in the Yarmouk camp is dire, as IS militants battle Syrian government forces, and civilians are trapped in the middle.   Describing Yarmouk, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon reportedly said, “a refugee camp is beginning to resemble a death camp,” and he called for an end to the fighting, humanitarian access and safe passage for those wanting to leave.  I ask you to do all you can to urgently support the secretary-general’s call.

Thank you for hearing my concerns about these two important issues for Middle East peace.

With gratitude for your service,

Your name

Use this link from our partners at the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns to contact your Members of Congress now.

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