Thursday, September 10, 2009

CMEP on White House and Settlements

Churches for Middle East Peace reports on the White House Statement on Settlements & "Palestinian Authority Only" stamp. There is lots more information at

1. White House Statement on Israeli Settlements

On September 4, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement in response to reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu plans to approve hundreds of new housing units in the West Bank prior to a moratorium on settlement construction. "We regret the reports of Israel's plans to approve additional settlement construction. Continued settlement activity is inconsistent with Israel's commitment under the Roadmap…The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement expansion and we urge that it stop."

The U.S. is currently working with Israelis, Palestinians, and Arab states on the steps they must take to resume meaningful negotiations. The White House statement explains the importance of a settlement freeze saying, "We are working to create a climate in which negotiations can take place, and such actions make it harder to create such a climate."

The Administration reaffirmed its commitment to Israel's security saying that security for Israel "can best be achieved through comprehensive peace in the region, including a two-state solution with a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel."

Talks between U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell and Israeli authorities are continuing. President Obama is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 21, and many are hopeful there will be some announcement about peace efforts at that time. Stay tuned.

To read the official White House statement, please go to -

Background Reading:

"Remarks to the Press," Ian Kelly, United States Department of State, September 4, 2009 -

"U.S. 'regrets' Netanyahu plan to approve new West Bank homes," Barak Ravid, Avi Issacharoff, and Akiva Eldar, Haaretz, September 5, 2009 -
"West Bank settlement growth looks likely," Richard Boudreaux and Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2009 -,0,2602090.story

2. "Palestinian Authority Only" Stamp

An Israeli policy that denies some Americans entry to Israel appears to be targeting Arab-Americans. Arab Americans have complained to the Department of State because this "Palestinian Authority only" stamp is seen as arbitrary discrimination. The stamp bars these Americans from entering Israel and Jerusalem and thus, could prevent American citizens from reaching the American Consulate and the American Embassy.

On August 19, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said, "We have made it quite known to the Israeli Government…that we expect all American citizens to be treated the same regardless of their national origin. And this kind of - these kinds of restrictions we consider unacceptable."

The 1951 Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between the U.S. and Israel says that U.S. citizens traveling to Israel be permitted "to travel therein freely, to reside at places of their choice; to enjoy liberty of conscience..." The United States has continuously made it clear to the Israeli government that fair and consistent treatment of U.S citizens, regardless of ethnicity, is a priority.

Background Reading:

"U.S. blasts Israel's limits on U.S. visitors to W. Bank," Barak Ravid, Amira Hass and Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz, August 21, 2009 -

"Daily Press Briefing," Ian Kelly, United States Department of State, August 19, 2009 -

"Arab Americans complain to Clinton about Israeli 'discrimination'," Agence France-Presse, September 3, 2009 -

"Enough is Enough," Dr. James Zogby, Arab American Institute, August 31, 2009 -

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