Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Other People's Mail

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Other People's Mail

Article excerpt

Some letters by or to other people are as informative for our readers as anything we might write ourselves.

Palestinians Need Recognition

To The Independent, May 11, 2007

I have just returned from the occupied Palestinian territories where-as a member of an official European Parliament delegation-I have seen at first-hand the appalling suffering of the Palestinian people. In the past year alone, the number living in poverty has increased by 30 percent, essential services are devastated, and there is, accordingly, growing violence on the streets.

But the shock of witnessing all this is compounded by a sense of complicity in it. The EU continues to withhold direct aid from the Palestinian Authority, as it has done for more than 12 months, although a new unity government has been formed which essentially meets the demands of the international community for a cease-fire and recognition of Israel. Israel itself continues to withhold tax and customs revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, which is therefore unable to pay public sector wages in full or provide essential services to its increasingly impoverished people.

The EU also fails to recognize fully the new government, and refuses direct discussions with its Hamas members, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

The normalization of relations between the EU and the Palestinian Authority is urgently needed, not just to prevent a worsening of the humanitarian and economic hardships being endured by Palestinians. Its political significance could be even more important, signaling to the rest of the world that the EU recognizes the Palestinian government as an expression of the democratic will of the Palestinian people, and that the government is ready for peace negotiations.

It will also give the EU leverage with Israel to pressure it to release the tax revenues it withholds unlawfully. For these reasons, our delegation met all members of the government and is now urging all EU member states to normalize relations with the Palestinian Authority immediately.

Unless urgent action is taken, as the International Crisis Group has warned, Palestine faces becoming a "failed state" before it has even achieved statehood.

Dr. Caroline Lucas, MEP (Green Party, SE England), Brussels, Belgium

A True Progressive Cause

To the San Francisco Chronicle, May 11, 2007

The reason "so-called progressives continue to embrace the Palestinian cause" is the outrageous injustice of Israel's 40 years of illegal occupation of Palestinian land. Palestinians resist Israel's relentless and cruel pressure to force them off the land that Israel wants for a "Greater Israel.''

Meanwhile, Israeli children grow up with textbook maps showing that it all belongs to Israel already.

Zoe Goorman, Mill Valley, CA

Time for an Iraq Timetable

To The New York Times, April 25, 2007

Last September, President Bush announced a last-ditch plan to pacify Baghdad: build trenches around the city. "They're building a berm around the city to make it harder for people to come in with explosive devices," he said.

But this insane plan to encircle a metropolis of five million people with a medieval moat was rejected by the Iraqis.

The most recent plan to engineer the city into submission was to build a wall separating Sunnis from Shi'i. But the Iraqis don't want to live with apartheid-like divisions, and that plan has just been scrapped.

Rather than invent another civil engineering fantasy, it's time for real solutions to the violence in Iraq: the American troops must withdraw, and Iraqis, with the help of the international community, must begin a process of reconciliation.

Medea Benjamin, San Francisco, CA. The writer is co-founder of Global Exchange and Code Pink.

The UK's Duty to Iraqi Refugees

To The Independent, May 21, 2007

Your front-page coverage of another horrific day of killing in Baghdad (April 19) raises a very important practical question, namely what help the UK and the U. …

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