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January/February 2012 Postcard

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DEAR PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

As winter falls, Palestinian families are facing a financial crisis triggered by the shortfall of millions of dollars in foreign aid and frozen tax funds. The United States and Israel are punishing the Palestinian people for bypassing negotiations—which have gone nowhere for two decades—and gaining admission into the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Congress first suspended all U.S. aid to Palestinians, including security funds— until Israel pointed out that action would undermine its security, too. Congress is still holding up West Bank development projects worth millions of dollars. Hundreds of Palestinians have now lost jobs and the vital services on which they depend while Israel continues to restrict their trade and movement.

Why not also halt the more than $3 billion in U.S. aid to Israel until it ends its illegal settlement construction? Why are there no repercussions—only silence—when Israel continues to build on illegally occupied Palestinian land?


DEAR SENATOR:

As winter falls, Palestinian families are facing a financial crisis triggered by the shortfall of millions of dollars in foreign aid and frozen tax funds. The United States and Israel are punishing the Palestinian people for bypassing negotiations—which have gone nowhere for two decades—and gaining admission into the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Congress first suspended all U.S. aid to Palestinians, including security funds— until Israel pointed out that action would undermine its security, too. Congress is still holding up West Bank development projects worth millions of dollars. Hundreds of Palestinians have now lost jobs and the vital services on which they depend while Israel continues to restrict their trade and movement.

Why not also halt the more than $3 billion in U.S. aid to Israel until it ends its illegal settlement construction? Why are there no repercussions—only silence—when Israel continues to build on illegally occupied Palestinian land?


DEAR REPRESENTATIVE:

As winter falls, Palestinian families are facing a financial crisis triggered by the shortfall of millions of dollars in foreign aid and frozen tax funds. The United States and Israel are punishing the Palestinian people for bypassing negotiations—which have gone nowhere for two decades—and gaining admission into the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Congress first suspended all U.S. aid to Palestinians, including security funds— until Israel pointed out that action would undermine its security, too. Congress is still holding up West Bank development projects worth millions of dollars. Hundreds of Palestinians have now lost jobs and the vital services on which they depend while Israel continues to restrict their trade and movement.

Why not also halt the more than $3 billion in U.S. aid to Israel until it ends its illegal settlement construction? Why are there no repercussions—only silence—when Israel continues to build on illegally occupied Palestinian land?


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altFatima Hamdan sitting next to her makeshift home near Gaza City. (Photo Courtesy Mahmoud Omer) alt

Israel collects about $100 million a month in taxes and customs duties on goods imported to Palestinian territories, which the Palestinian Authority depends on to pay salaries. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu freezes these funds periodically when Palestinian actions displease him. After intense international pressure, he reluctantly released the October and November taxes—along with a threat. He’ll freeze them again if Palestinians apply for membership in additional U.N. organizations.

The U.S., which sends $500 million a year to the Palestinian Authority, including millions for training Palestinian security services, also punished Palestinians for winning membership in UNESCO. USAID, the U.S. foreign aid agency, has put on hold projects to support Palestinian health care, investment, development and democratic initiatives. U.S. programs run by Sesame Workshop, World Vision, Internews, Save the Children, Amideast and ANERA have been left high and dry.

Is this any way for the United States to promote peace and justice in the region?

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