** Please forward widely**
As talk of a full scale Israeli ground invasion of begins, it’s even more important that we take action to save lives now. At a meeting of the Security Council today, United Nations General Secretary Kofi Annan called for an "immediate cessation of hostilities and a far greater and more credible effort by Israel to protect civilians and infrastructure." He reported that over 300 Lebanese have been killed and more than 600 wounded -- mainly civilians, about one third of them children.
Yesterday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki condemned the Israeli aggression and called on the world to take action. Today, a peace action was called in Beirut by women's groups and other non-governmental organizations, while the Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora said his country has been "torn to shreds."
Our voices must be raised to end the Bush administration’s stonewalling at the U.N.!
We want to thank those who have responded by signing onto the letter and others who have sent in suggestions for how to strengthen it. Please review the updated version below. If you or your organization have not signed on, please do. If you signed on to the draft letter yesterday, please contact us to confirm your signature.
The deadline for having your organization’s name on the letter is Friday, July 21, at 12 Noon EDT. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to have your organization listed. For more information, call the UFPJ national office at 212-868-5545.
Please join United for Peace and Justice and other peace and justice activists to deliver the letter on Friday, July 21, at 4 PM. We will meet at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. at 140 East 45th Street (between Third and Lexington Avenues).
We call for the Bush administration to:
Support a Security Council resolution calling for an immediate and unconditional cease-fire.
Urge negotiations now to resolve all disputes, including the release of prisoners on all sides, with the goal being a comprehensive just and lasting peace in the region based on the implementation of international law.
Put an end to US blocking of UN action to resolve the crisis.
Judith Le Blanc
UFPJ National Co-chairperson
Dear Ambassador Bolton,
On behalf of United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), the largest antiwar coalition in the United States, we want to express our concern over the escalating crisis between Israel, Lebanon, and Palestine and urge you to support a Security Council resolution calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire.
We are gravely concerned about the loss of life on all sides. We condemn all attacks on civilians, and call for the release of political prisoners and POWs held on all sides in this conflict.
Hezbollah's crossing of the Israeli border to capture two soldiers may have violated the 1949 Armistice between Israel and Lebanon. But it is important to note that Hezbollah attacked soldiers, not civilians. In addition, as the New York Times recognized on July 19, Hezbollah did not fire rockets into Israeli cities until after the Israeli army began bombing civilian areas of Lebanon.
The Israeli government could have chosen to engage in serious negotiations for a prisoner exchange, as they have so many times before. As recently as 2004, in a German-orchestrated swap, Hezbollah exchanged a kidnapped Israeli civilian and the remains of several Israeli soldiers killed in combat in Lebanon, for over 400 Palestinian, Lebanese, and other Arab prisoners.
Instead, the Israeli government chose to escalate what would have remained one of many common border skirmishes into a war. They have been deliberately shelling civilian areas and civilian infrastructure in both Lebanon and Gaza. Israel's attacks were and are clearly disproportionate in their use of force. They constitute acts of collective punishment against the Lebanese and Palestinian populations -- extremely serious violations of international law.
While the world is crying out for global intervention to stop the bloodshed, we are outraged by the response of the Bush administration. Instead of using its influence on Israel to stop the devastating attacks on the Lebanese and Palestinian populations, Washington has supported and enabled such attacks through supplying war planes, missiles, jet fuel, financing, and political support. This, in violation of both international and domestic law -- specifically, the U.S. Arms Export Control Act. And instead of rallying the international community to stop further bloodshed, it has blocked UN efforts to call for an immediate ceasefire.
We urgently call on the Bush administration to work with international partners to broker an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and commence negotiations to peacefully resolve all aspects of the crisis, with the goal being a comprehensive just and lasting peace in the region based on the implementation of international law.
We look forward to hearing your response.
ACTION ALERT * UNITED FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE
www.unitedforpeace.org | 212-868-5545