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 warplanes, 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.
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