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APN Letter to President Bush on eve of Israel visit

"For the first time in almost a decade, this new year begins with hope - hope for real progress toward peace and security for Israel and toward the realization of the Palestinians' dream of a state."

Letter sent on January 4, 2008:

Dear President Bush:
 
For the first time in almost a decade, this new year begins with hope - hope for real progress toward peace and security for Israel and toward the realization of the Palestinians' dream of a state.  This hope was generated, first and foremost, by last November's Annapolis peace conference, which launched a new peace process embraced by most of the Arab and Islamic world and the international community.  On behalf of Americans for Peace Now (APN), we commend you for convening this historic event. APN is a Jewish, Zionist organization whose mission is to enhance Israel's security through peace and to support the Israeli Peace Now movement. 
 
If the negotiating process you launched in Annapolis is to thrive, rather than be stillborn, like so many past initiatives, it is vital that you now work to nourish it.    As you prepare to visit Israel, we therefore urge you to:
 
-- immediately establish the U.S. mechanism to monitor the progress and performance of both Israel and the Palestinians, as promised in Annapolis; 

-- urgently clarify that the Road Map requires both sides to honor their obligations simultaneously - beginning with Israel's obligation to immediately dismantle outposts and freeze settlements, and the PA's obligation to  undertake a sustained and effective effort to confront terrorists and dismantle terrorist infrastructure;

-- press both Israel and the Palestinians to formalize their negotiating teams and commit to a negotiations schedule and agenda;

-- continue to insist that the Palestinians act vigorously and continuously to fight violence and terror, stop all anti-Israeli incitement, and promote and protect the rule of law;

-- remain firm in demanding that Israel refrain from actions that will harm the prospects of success in peace negotiations or seek to prejudge the outcome of negotiations, including expanding settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem;

-- continue to provide material and moral support for the peace process and to mobilize similar support from countries in the region and around the world;

-- demand transparency and accountability from the PA and urge Israel to facilitate West Bank economic recovery by easing as much as possible the movement of goods and people; and

-- intervene to address the growing crisis between Egypt and Israel, both to improve security along the Gaza-Egypt border, and to reinforce the Israel-Egypt covenant born at Camp David - a covenant that has been a cornerstone of U.S. policy in the Middle East for three decades.
 
Finally, we appeal to you to work urgently to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.  Meeting the humanitarian needs of the civilian population of Gaza must mean more than ensuring that people do not starve.  The desire to pressure Hamas notwithstanding, the dramatic deterioration in the health and welfare of civilians in Gaza over the past year represents an entirely man-made, and entirely avoidable, humanitarian tragedy.  This tragedy must be reversed, not as a concession to Hamas, but because it is the right thing to do, both morally and strategically.    
 
2007 will be remembered as the year that the U.S. reclaimed its leadership role in the effort to achieve Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab peace.  We applaud you for this new direction in U.S. policy.  As we have said before, the pursuit of Middle East peace is not for the irresolute or faint-of-heart. It requires courage, vision, determination, tenacious leadership and a clear focus on the end-game:  peace and security, for Israelis, Palestinians, and the entire region.  In 2008, Mr. President, we urge you to stay the course and follow the biblical edict to "seek peace and pursue it" - for the sake of the U.S., Israel and all people who long for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
 
Sincerely,

Franklin Fisher        Debra DeLee
Chair                     President & CEO