Buses to DC for Sept 24th Rally to End the War in Iraq
Bring the Troops and the National Guard Home!
One of the organizers for today's September 24, 2005 rally is making the unacceptable demand that all Palestinian refugees who left Israel in 1948 and their descendants (a total of 4 million people) be allowed to return to Israel and be given back the lands they lived on in 1948. This demand, which is being called the Right of Return, is equivalent to calling for the dissolution of the state of Israel, which is a call for war, not a call for peace.
We believe the rights of Palestinian refugees should be addressed through a two-state solution -- Israel and Palestine -- living in peace and security. We recommend the following Statement of Principles by the American Task Force on Palestine, a Palestinian-American group, as a framework for addressing the issue.
Statement of Principles on the Palestinian Refugee Issue
by The American Task Force on Palestine. http://www.americantaskforce.org
The objective of ATFP is the establishment of a Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel, and an end of the Israeli occupation that began in 1967. ATFP is opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, but is not opposed to the state of Israel in its internationally recognized borders.
1) A resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue can only come about through direct negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian officials as an expression of their national policies. No other parties are entitled to negotiate on this issue. However, individuals and organizations are free to express their opinions on this issue in the spirit of free, open and respectful debate.
2) There are many parties responsible for the suffering of the Palestinian refugees. Responsible parties include first Israel for displacing the Palestinian refugees, refusing their return and confiscating their property without compensation. Some Arab states also bear varying degrees of responsibility; some for allowing generations of refugees to languish in camps under miserable conditions, or by placing various restrictions in terms of their legal status, employment and travel rights, and others for not having done enough to ease the suffering of refugees. Finally, the Palestinian leadership has been at fault for not communicating honestly and openly with the refugees on what they can expect for their future.
3) The right of return is an integral part of international humanitarian law, and cannot be renounced by any parties. There is no Palestinian constituency of consequence that would agree to the renunciation of this right. There is also no Jewish constituency of consequence in Israel that would accept the return of millions of Palestinian refugees.
4) Although the right of return cannot be renounced, it should not stand in the way of the only identifiable peaceful prospect for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: a resolution based on a state of Israel living side-by-side with a Palestinian state in the occupied territories with its capital in East Jerusalem. Implementation of the right of return cannot obviate the logic of a resolution based on two states. The challenge for the Israeli and Palestinian national leaderships is to arrive at a formula that recognizes refugee rights but which does not contradict the basis of a two-state solution and an end to the conflict.
5) As part of any comprehensive settlement ending the conflict, Israel should accept its moral responsibility to apologize to the Palestinian people for the creation of the refugee problem. Palestinians should accept that this acknowledgment of responsibility does not undermine the legitimacy of the present-day Israeli state.
SOUTH MOUNTAIN PEACE ACTION of Maplewood and South Orange, NJ
Chair, Paul Surovell 973-763-9493 www.BeAboutPeace.com
[Original Statement Issued by SMPA on September 3, 2005]
South Mountain Peace Action will participate in the peaceful and legal mass demonstration to end the war in Iraq in Washington DC on Saturday, September 24th.
We encourage everyone who can to join us by reserving a seat on a New Jersey Peace Action bus that will leave early in the morning and return in the evening of Saturday, September 24th.
Call New Jersey Peace Action at: 973-744-3263 to reserve a seat and indicate if you want to leave from Maplewood or Montclair. Children are welcome.
The cost is $40 per person. Metro fare is extra.
Details about the exact time and place of the buses will be announced later.
Statement by South Mountain Peace Action
The demonstration of September 24th in Washington will be an important call for peace by the American people.
At the rally on September 24th, SMPA will distribute a flyer urging an end to the war in Iraq and a change in the priorities of our government from war to human needs and protection of the environment. The flyer will also express support for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process leading to two states living in peace and security.
The reason for addressing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process on September 24th, is that unfortunately, one of the rally organizers is making the unacceptable demand that all Palestinian refugees who left Israel in 1948 and their descendants (a total of 4 million people) be allowed to return to Israel and be given back the lands they lived on in 1948. This demand, called the Right of Return, is equivalent to calling for the dissolution of the state of Israel, which is a call for war, not for peace.
SMPA agrees with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, such as those who wrote the Geneva Accord, that the needs and rights of Palestinian refugees should be addressed through the peace process and a two-state solution that recognizes and protects the state of Israel and creates an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza.
It is unfortunate that a divisive issue has been injected into a day of protest against the war in Iraq, but since it has been, South Mountain Peace Action will speak out in defense of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in addition to calling for an end to the war in Iraq, in Washington on September 24th.
For more details about SMPA's position on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process write firstname.lastname@example.org or call 973-763-9493.