Letter to Powell: You must act to stop revenge

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Dear Secretary Powell,

Last night a bomb killed at least seventeen Israeli civilians in Tel Aviv, and injured more than one hundred others. Thus seventeen more families have been added to the hundreds of Palestinian and dozens of Israeli families who are mourning the loss of a child, a parent or another dear one.

Your strong condemnation of this attack no doubt echoed the feelings of all those who reject violence which targets civilians. I write to you now during a lull in which many people anticipate ferocious Israeli revenge attacks which may claim many more innocent lives and will certainly fuel rather than bring about an end to violence.

I urge you to do all in your power to dissuade Israel from such a course. Already Israel has tightened a strict closure on all the occupied territories and reinforced its siege of Palestinian towns and cities. This is the kind of collective punishment you condemned during your first visit to the region.

Israel has announced that it has lifted its “unilateral ceasefire,” something that is of little practical significance since in reality the occupation forces continued all their brutality unabated, but may portend some act of viciousness designed to satisfy outraged Israeli public opinion or demonstrate Israel’s resolve.

As you have stated before, there is no military solution to Israel’s problem, though that has not stopped Israel trying to find one, and one fears may not deter it from some further atrocity.

With its statements and violent attacks against Palestinian civilians, security personnel and institutions, Israel holds all Palestinians responsible for the acts of a few. This only feeds the conflict and is a clear expression of the very policy of terrorism that Israel claims to reject and to be fighting.

Your immediate goal must be to restrain Israel from escalating the violence even further. That would be much easier to do if the United States wasn’t actively intervening on Israel’s side by continuing to ship the weaponry and money to Israel that support the settlements and sustain the occupation. The United States must make it clear to Israel that only an end to the occupation and the restoration of Palestinian rights can bring about the security and peace that Israelis want.

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