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US lawmakers urge Obama: Press Israel to ease Gaza siege
Published Wednesday 27/01/2010 (updated) 29/01/2010 02:36
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By Wednesday, 27 January 2010, 54 members of the American Congress had signed the following letter to US President Barack Obama:

Dear President Obama,

Thank you for your ongoing work to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for your commitment of $300 million in U.S. aid to rebuild the Gaza Strip. We write to you with great concern about the ongoing crisis in Gaza.

The people of Gaza have suffered enormously since the blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt following Hamas' coup, and particularly following Operation Cast Lead. We also sympathize deeply with the people of southern Israel who have suffered from abhorrent rocket and mortar attacks. We recognize that the Israeli government has imposed restrictions on Gaza out of a legitimate and keenly felt fear of continued terrorist action by Hamas and other militant groups. This concern must be addressed without resulting in the de facto collective punishment of the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip. Truly, fulfilling the needs of civilians in Israel and Gaza are mutually reinforcing goals.

The unabated suffering of Gazan civilians highlights the urgency of reaching a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we ask you to press for immediate relief for the citizens of Gaza as an urgent component of your broader Middle East peace efforts. The current blockade has severely impeded the ability of aid agencies to do their work to relieve suffering, and we ask that you advocate for immediate improvements for Gaza in the following areas:

• Movement of people, especially students, the ill, aid workers, journalists, and those with family concerns, into and out of Gaza;
• Access to clean water, including water infrastructure materials,
• Access to plentiful and varied food and agricultural materials;
• Access to medicine and health care products and suppliers;
• Access to sanitation supplies, including sanitation infrastructure materials;
• Access to construction materials for repairs and rebuilding;
• Access to fuel;
• Access to spare parts;
• Prompt passage into and out of Gaza for commercial and agricultural goods; and
• Publication and review of the list of items prohibited to the people of Gaza.

Winter is arriving and the needs of the people grow ever more pressing. For example, the ban on building materials is preventing the reconstruction of thousands of innocent families' damaged homes. There is also a concern that unrepaired sewage treatment plants will overflow and damage surrounding property and water resources.

Despite ad hoc easing of the blockade, there has been no significant improvement in the quantity and scope of goods allowed into Gaza. Both the number of trucks entering Gaza per month and the number of days the crossings have been open have declined since March. This crisis has devastated livelihoods, entrenched a poverty rate of over 70%, increased dependence on erratic international aid, allowed the deterioration of public infrastructure, and led to the marked decline of the accessibility of essential services.

The humanitarian and political consequences of a continued near-blockade would be disastrous. Easing the blockade on Gaza will not only improve the conditions on the ground for Gaza's civilian population, but will also undermine the tunnel economy which has strengthened Hamas. Under current conditions, our aid remains little more than an unrealized pledge. Most importantly, lifting these restrictions will give civilians in Gaza a tangible sense that diplomacy can be an effective tool for bettering their conditions.

Your Administration's overarching Middle East peace efforts will benefit Israel, the Palestinians, and the entire region. The people of Gaza, along with all the peoples of the region, must see that the United States is dedicated to addressing the legitimate security needs of the State of Israel and to ensuring that the legitimate needs of the Palestinian population are met.


Members of Congress

Raul Grijalva

Lois Capps
Sam Farr
Bob Filner
Barbara Lee
Loretta Sanchez
Pete Stark
Michael Honda
Lynn Woolsey
Jackie Speier
Diane Watson
George Miller

Jim Himes

Andre Carson

Bruce Braley

John Yarmuth

Elijah Cummings
Donna Edwards

Michael Capuano
William Delahunt
Jim McGovern
John Tierney
John Olver
Stephen Lynch

John Conyers
John Dingell
Carolyn Kilpatrick

Keith Ellison
Betty McCollum
James Oberstar

New Jersey
Donald Payne
Rush Holt
Bill Pascrell

New York
Yvette Clarke
Maurice Hinchey
Paul Tonko
Eric Massa

North Carolina
David Price

Mary Jo Kilroy
Marcy Kaptur

Earl Blumenauer
Peter DeFazio

Chaka Fattah
Joe Sestak

Peter Welch

Jim Moran

Jim McDermott
Adam Smith
Jay Inslee
Brian Baird

West Virginia
Nick Rahall

Tammy Baldwin
Gwen Moore

Glenn Nye

Organizations supporting this letter include:

J Street, Americans for Peace Now (APN), The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF), The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights (AAPER), The American Near East Refugee Association (ANERA), The Methodist Church, The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), Rabbis for Human Rights, InterAction, The Getman Group, and MercyCorps.
1 ) kathy / usa
27/01/2010 21:41
Thank you for writing this and giving it to the President. I have friends in Gaza and I know how terribly they suffer. They need as much help as any country that is facing any natural disaster. Their disaster is man made and must not be ignored any longer. I pray that the situation the Gazans are dealing with will very soon improve and they will be able to be strong and healthy and free; as we all wish to be. Please keep working on this matter and don't let it fade away unresolved.

2 ) James / US
28/01/2010 05:35
Thank you for posting names. Now I know who will not get my contribution. I will also share this list with other Democrats like myself and warn them about providing financial support for these 50 shnooks.

3 ) Ziyad Olives / USA
28/01/2010 06:04
I applaud all the cosigners of this letter and thank them for their courage.

4 ) Asim Alavi / Sri Lanka
28/01/2010 08:04
This is simply great and bold. Nothing else any one can say

5 ) christian palestinian / usa
29/01/2010 00:02
this action by courageous american congressmen is great news, but far more needs to be done to apply real pressure on the apartheid state of israel. We palestinians have heard and seen many symbolic letters and speeches over the last 61 years, however we need real action.

the US congress is just like palestine in that both have become israeli-occupied territory. the US congress needs to start applying sanctions against apartheid israel now to force them to abide by UN resolutions.

6 ) Deborah / USA
31/01/2010 21:20
you are right christian palestinian, far more needs to done. what's really bizarre about congress is how they do not "get" that it is in the US national interests in terms of ordinary citizens's security to get israel out of the occupied territories. the white house appears not to get it either, but then no one gets elected without AIPAC and individual Zionist donors and their contributions to campaigns.

7 ) Karim / UK
03/02/2010 20:06
If Israel wanted to prevent rocket attacks then it just had to observe the ceasefire that brought the numbers of rockets fired down from around 170 per month to 3. Instead it continued with attacks on targets in Gaza, and so the ceasefire broke down. Ultimately this escalated to Operation Cast lead in which 1700 Palestinians, mostly civilian, died. Versus 13 Israeli (military) casualties. It is time to make Israel a pariah state until there is a just settlement & security for Palestinians.

8 ) Chimo / USA
11/02/2010 21:47
Wrong Karim, nothing israel did or did not do would have stopped the rocket attacks. Only Cast Lead finally made Hamas realize that rockets are not worth it. Too bad so many people had to die first , but that is exactly what hamas wanted all along. How about the people of Sderot? They and their children suffered as well. As long as people like you hate Israel more than you care about peace, nothing will change.

9 ) jimbo ellis / USA
11/07/2010 23:25
54 racist dems sign a letter to support Hamas terrorism. How cute

1. Hamas is a terrorist organization
2. they were elected by these poor poor pieces of garbage
3. they deserve what they get, after all they voted for it
4. send a few more missles to Israel and see if it gets more public sympathy
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