ADC Letter to UNSG Kofi Annan

Media@adc.org    November 21, 2000 8:31:30 PM EST

ADC President Hala Maksoud has written to President  Clinton  and
Secretary of State Albright  calling  on  the  United  States  to
support  international  protection  for  the  Palestinian  people
living under Israeli occupation and  continuous  Israeli  attack.
She has also written  the  following  letter  to  United  Nations
Secretary-General Kofi Annan urging the UN Secretariat to use its
influence  on  behalf  of  international   protection   for   the
Palestinians. Annan addressed ADC's  17th  annual  convention  in
June.

TEXT OF HALA MAKSOUD'S LETTER TO KOFI ANNAN:

November 20, 2000

Dear Secretary-General Annan:

I  write  to  you  as  President  of  the   American-Arab   Anti-
Discrimination  Committee  (ADC),  the  nation's  largest   Arab-
American membership organization, to express our deep concern  at
repeated  and  continuous  attacks  on  unarmed  Palestinians  by
Israeli occupation forces and  to  call  on  the  United  Nations
Secretariat  to  take  the  lead   in   extending   international
protection for the Palestinians that is so urgently needed.

As you are no doubt  aware,  today  Israeli  helicopter  gunships
again attacked civilian targets associated with  the  Palestinian
Authority in Gaza, knocking out electricity in most of the  area.
This outrageous attack seems designed to undo any possibility  of
a lowering of tensions and a peaceful end to Israeli  occupation.
There can be no further  doubt  about  the  urgent  need  for  an
international force to protect the Palestinian people from  these
continuous attacks by Israel's occupation troops. Israel has gone
from  using  live  fire  and   tanks   against   protesters,   to
assasinating   Palestinian   leaders,   to   repeatedly   bombing
defenseless Palestinian cities. It is  clear  that  the  Israelis
will  stop  at  nothing  to   enforce   their   occupation.   The
international community can no longer stand  by  and  watch  this
slaughter continue. The Palestinians need protection now.

More than 250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops  in
recent weeks, many of them children. Yesterday, Israeli  soldiers
shot three more Palestinians, including a 14 year old child.  The
Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reports today that  Israel  has  given
its soldiers "shoot  to  kill"  orders  against  all  Palestinian
protesters over the age of 12. On Oct. 19, The  UN  Human  Rights
Commission voted to condemn Israel  for  "widespread,  systematic
and gross violations of human rights" and "the indiscriminate use
of force in violation of international humanitarian law." Amnesty
International has also condemned the  "excessive  use  of  lethal
force" by Israel and the killing  of  large  numbers  of  unarmed
children. On October 7, the UN Security Council  condemned  "acts
of violence,  especially  the  excessive  use  of  force  against
Palestinians, resulting in injury and loss  of  human  life"  and
"called upon Israel, the occupying Power, to  abide  scrupulously
by its legal  obligations  and  its  responsibilities  under  the
Fourth Geneva Convention."

In your "Report of the Secretary-General to the Security  Council
on the Protection of Civilians in Armed  Conflict"  issued  on  8
September, 1999, you wrote that "preventive deployments  will  be
of particular value  in  situations  where  the  legacy  of  past
conflict has increased the  risk  of  mass  violations  of  human
rights." There can be  little  doubt  that  the  legacy  of  past
conflicts is a major  factor  in  the  current  conflict  in  the
Occupied Territories, which is a result of an untenable situation
of ongoing occupation created by earlier conflicts.

In your Report you added that  "I  recommend  that  the  Security
Council: 39. Establish, as a measure of  last  resort,  temporary
security zones and safe corridors for the protection of civilians
and the delivery of assistance in situations characterized by the
threat of  genocide,  crimes  against  humanity  and  war  crimes
against the civilian population, subject to a clear understanding
that such arrangements require the availability, prior  to  their
establishment, of sufficient and credible force to guarantee  the
safety of civilian populations making use of them, and ensure the
demilitarization of these zones and the availability of  a  safe-
exit  option."  We  strongly  feel  that   the   dangers   facing
Palestinian civilians at present more  than  meet  the  standards
laid out  here  and  that  the  deaths  of  hundreds  of  unarmed
civilians at the hands of occupation forces  and  the  escalating
violence against them clearly constitutes  a  serious  threat  of
"crimes against humanity and  war  crimes  against  the  civilian
population." Indeed, according to  Mary  Robinson,  the  UN  High
Commissioner for Human Rights as well as the human  rights  group
Amnesty International, the standard not just for  the  threat  of
"crimes against humanity and  war  crimes  against  the  civilian
population," but for the actual  crimes  themselves  may  already
have been met.

Since Israel refuses to  end  its  33  year  occupation  of  East
Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, and since it will not  respect
its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention to protect and
defend   Palestinians   living   under   its   occupation,    the
international community is bound  to  offer  protection  to  this
defenseless population. This obligation is clearly articulated in
you own report. I urge you in the strongest possible terms to use
the influence  of  the  United  Nations  Secretariat  to  support
international protection for the Palestinian people.

I look forward to hearing from you soon on this urgent matter.

Yours,
Hala Maksoud, Ph.D.
President, ADC

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
4201 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20008, U.S.A.
Tel: (202) 244-2990
Fax: (202) 244-3196
E-mail: adc@adc.org
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