JJP lobbies the American Embassy

On 7 April 2024, JJP wrote to the American Embassy, requesting a meeting to discuss American policy towards Israel and its attack on Gaza, and in the longer term the need to end the occupation in order to create the conditions for peace. The meeting took place only a week later, on 16 April, which we think indicates a strong interest in hearing what we have to say and reporting it to the State Department in Washington.

We met the Embassy’s Middle East Advisor and two officials concerned with assessing the political situation in the UK.

Our letter is below:

7 April 2024

Joseph Pennington

Minister Counselor for Political Affairs, Embassy of the United States

Dear Mr. Pennington,

We are writing to request a meeting with you to discuss Administration policy towards Israel and its attack on Gaza, and in the longer term the need to end the occupation in order to create the conditions for peace.

From the beginning, the Administration gave Israel its full diplomatic and material support, while advising it to adopt a less aggressive strategy that would not cause so many civilian deaths. As the advice continued to be ignored, Admnistration anger over the high casualties became more public but was restricted to saying “far too many Palestinians are being killed”. The support continued unabated.

After vetoing three Security Council ceasefire resolutions during the five months attack, on 25 March the United States abstained on Resolution 2728, calling for an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan respected by all parties, leading to a lasting sustainable ceasefire.” That allowed the resolution to pass and was seen as a major diplomatic snub and message to Israel from the United States.

Yet after the vote, the United States Ambassador talked down the resolution by saying it was “non-binding.” At the same time, another large arms shipment was quietly authorised.

In all this, we see an American Administration that knows Israel is breaking international law but is unwilling to acknowledge that plain truth acknowledged by all international lawyers, historians and legal scholars who have spoken publicly about the war. This Israeli government is flouting the principles of proportionality and distinction which are central to protection of civilians in time of war, and is therefore committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, no less than Hamas did in its attack on October 7.

The Administration is known to have restricted and slowed deliveries of weapons recently, but has not stopped them, thereby allowing too many Palestinians to continue being killed. Last week President Biden appeared, finally, to accept that this Israeli government will not change course unless significant pressure is applied to it. In his conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu, he called for an “immediate ceasefire” and said clearly that he will reassess American policy with respect to Gaza unless Israel satisfies the Administration that it is taking effective step to reduce civilian harm and significantly increase humanitarian aid. That is welcome, if long overdue. The coming days will reveal whether Israel complies and, if not, whether the President will make good his threat.

The International Court of Justice may well soon judge that Israel has been committing genocide, in which case it may also be asked to judge whether the United States was complicit in it. This cannot be a situation the United Sates wants to be in. We think it is a self-inflicted trap created by the years of American indulgence of the Israeli occupation and the repression of Palestinians that has inevitably followed, including the five previous attacks on Gaza.

The trap became evident soon after the October 7 attack by Hamas, when the United States felt obliged to send a large naval task force to the Mediterranean in order to deter a potential attack on Israel by Iran. The United States is now at risk of a major confrontation with Iran solely because of Israel’s intransigence. It is already engaged in low-level hostilities with the Houthis, who are attacking ships belonging to countries that are seen to be supporting Israel’s attack on Gaza.

The only way for the United States to extricate itself from the trap is to acknowledge that Israel is breaking international law and stop resupplying weapons and ammunition until it has agreed and implemented a ceasefire.

In the long term, a way must be found to end Israel’s occupation and grant the Palestinians their right to self determination as the only way to create the conditions for peace. Very soon after the October 7 attack, almost all western leaders acknowledged that. In February, Secretary Blinken spoke of a “a concrete, time-bound and irreversible path” to a Palestinian state. But the question remains: Will an American administration be willing to apply the necessary diplomatic and economic pressure on Israel if a future Israeli government continues preferring domination and periodic major violence to peace?

We hope to hear from you shortly to arrange a meeting.

Yours sincerely,

Arthur Goodman
Parliamentary and Diplomatic Liaison Officer

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