An artist’s collage juxtaposes the real-life conditions Palestinian workers face in the occupied West Bank with Scarlett Johansson’s role as SodaStream spokesmodel. (Courtesy Electronic Intifada)
Outside the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, activists demonstrate against U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his peace proposal, Jan. 29, 2014. (Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty Images)
A Jewish settler (unseen at left) places the Israeli flag on a road sign as Israeli troops encircle Palestinian villagers protesting the army’s cutting branches off olive trees on a road leading to the illegal Jewish settlement of Tekoa, south of Bethlehe
Dr. Eyad El Serraj at a 1993 press conference in East Jerusalem denouncing Israel’s use of torture. (Ruben Bittermann/Photofile)
U.N. and Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi (l) and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Jan. 22 press conference closing the Geneva II peace talks on Syria. (Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images)
January/February 2005 Postcard
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With the U.S. presidential election and the recent death of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat still fresh in many people’s minds, talk of elections in Palestine is heating up. On Nov. 2, Americans drove to their local schools, churches, community centers and fire departments to choose their next president.
Due to Israel’s military occupation of their land, it is unlikely that Palestinians will be afforded the same freedom of movement to democratically elect their next leader. As long as the Israeli army occupies the West Bank and controls the Gaza Strip, Palestinians say it is impossible for them to hold free, fair and transparent elections.
Israeli roadblocks and checkpoints impede campaigning—an essential part of any election, as you are well aware—and many significant Palestinian leaders remain in Israeli prisons, including Marwan Barghouti, who was one of the 10 original presidential candidates.
Please work to ensure Palestinians are given a chance to truly pick their next leader, and insist that Israel facilitate the process by removing all roadblocks and checkpoints.
City, State, Zip:
Israeli border police arrest Bassam al-Salhi, a People’s Party candidate in the Palestinian elections, as he tries to enter Jerusalem (AFP photo/Source People’s Party).
In November talks with Israeli officials in Jerusalem regarding the Jan. 9 Palestinian election, Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “We want to do everything we can, working together, to see that these elections are held in a peaceful way and give the Palestinian people a new opportunity to move forward. The terror must be ended; the violence must be ended.”
To achieve balance in our Middle East policy, the secretary of state—and, by extension, the U.S.—must put equal emphasis on ending Israel’s military occupation, and the brutality that accompanies it, as on ending Palestinian violence.
The U.S. and Israel must accept the leader Palestinians elect and establish a relationship based on honesty and mutual respect. As Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom recently said, it is in Israel’s interest to see the Palestinian elections go forward, as they could pave the way for a new leadership “with whom we can sit down.” An equitable and lasting peace can never be achieved as long as Palestinian leaders are denied a place at the table.